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Parents Urged to Practice Summer Fire Safety: State Agencies and Safe Kids Provide Tips for Keeping Your Family Safe

OSFM | Jun 29, 2015

Summertime means spending more time outdoors for many Kansas families.  Summer is also when there is an increase in visits to the emergency room due to fire and burn injury.  Barbecue grills, campfires and fireworks can cause serious injuries to children. Safe Kids Kansas, the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM), the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), and the Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP) remind everyone to practice fire safety to ensure your family has a fun, safe summer.

Statistics show that as summer approaches, we see an increase in the number of fire/burn emergency department (ER) visits in Kansas.  Kansas Hospital Association data from 2007 to 2010 show fire/burn ER visits peaked in the month of July.  This is likely due to the increase in use of fireworks.

It is no surprise that many families enjoy the sparkles and booms of fireworks.  But it is important to recognize that fireworks are explosive and can be dangerous.  It is especially important to supervise children around fireworks, keeping them at a safe distance and ensuring any firework they may be handling is appropriate for their age and used correctly according to the manufacturer. In 2014, 158 fireworks injuries were reported in Kansas.  Of those, 46 percent were injuries to children ages 16 and younger, according to OSFM. In addition, we know that many minor injuries go unreported.

“Even when handled correctly, fireworks can sometimes be defective or simply unpredictable,” said Cherie Sage, Safe Kids Kansas.  “Even sparklers, which are typically viewed by parents as relatively harmless fireworks for children, cause serious burn injuries, accounting for one-third of the injuries to children under five in the U.S.”

"While shooting your own fireworks can be a thrill, they can also cause serious injuries and fires if not handled properly,” says Doug Jorgensen, Fire Marshal for the State of Kansas. “The safest approach to enjoying fireworks is to visit public fireworks displays conducted by trained professionals who know how to properly handle fireworks.  We want all our Kansas kids to enjoy this summer’s fun and festivities as safely as possible.”

Follow these fireworks safety tips:

  • Closely supervise children around fireworks at all times.
  • Transport fireworks in the trunk of your vehicle. If your vehicle does not have a trunk, ensure fireworks are kept out of direct sunlight.
  • Read and follow the directions on the packaging.
  • Never modify fireworks or use homemade or illegal fireworks.
  • Little arms are too short to hold sparklers, which can heat up to 1,200 degrees. Let young children use glow sticks instead. They can be just as fun but they don’t burn at a temperature hot enough to melt glass.
  • If a child is injured by fireworks, call 9-1-1 immediately.
  • The best protection is to attend public fireworks displays and leave the lighting to professionals.

Many families enjoy camping during the summer months and making s‘mores around the campfire is often part of that tradition. Be fire smart when you head for the great outdoors, and be prepared to take extra precautions when you may be far from a water source.

Follow these campfire safety tips:

  • Supervise children and keep them away from the fire. 
  • Teach kids how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire.
  • Keep plenty of water nearby and have a shovel for throwing sand or dirt on the fire if it gets out of control.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended.

When extinguishing the fire, drown it with water. If you do not have water, use dirt. Continue adding and stirring until all material is cooled. However, do not bury coals, as they can smolder and start to burn again.

Grilling food outdoors is a national summer pastime. But before lighting up the grill, know the facts and keep safety in mind. Gas grills were involved in an average of 7,100 home fires every year from 2006 to 2010 in the U.S., while charcoal or other solid-fueled grills were involved in an annual average of 1,200 home fires, according to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA). Grill fires at home are estimated to cause an average of 10 deaths, 100 injuries, and $37 million in property loss each year in the U.S.

Follow these grilling safety tips:

  • Gas and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors.
  • The grill should be placed away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill to prevent flare ups.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.

Safe Kids Kansas, OSFM, KDHE and KHP urge parents to practice these safety tips to reduce the risk of a fire or a trip to the emergency room and ensure this summer is a safe one.



FireworksThe OSFM provides oversite of the fireworks industry in Kansas, including licensing and registration of fireworks wholesales and retailers.

Our office supports and promotes safe design and use of all types of fireworks.

For laws, rules and regulations pertaining to fireworks in Kansas, please visit the Rules & Regulations section.

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