Practice Fire Safety on the 4th of July

More fire-related calls come to the Pinellas County Regional 911 Center during the Fourth of July week than any other time of the year. Last year, local fire departments responded to 165  fire-related calls from July 3-5.Pinellas County Emergency Medical Services and Fire Administration reminds residents of the ban on the retail sale, purchase or use of fireworks that project into the air or explode and to practice fire safety when using outdoor recreational grills or firepits.

Fireworks safety:

Sparklers and fountains remain legal, but they can be dangerous, reaching temperatures of up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Only those over 12 years of age should handle sparklers of any type. Youth get burned by sparklers every year, so responsible adult supervision is necessary at all times. Officials urge extreme caution and advise residents to follow basic safety recommendations:

  •  Read and understand all product warnings.
  • Never place any body part directly over a device when lighting the fuse.
  • Use sparklers only as intended outdoors.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • After using these devices, douse them with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding.

Make safe outdoor cooking a priority:

  • Make sure that all grills are placed at least 10 feet away from any structures.
  • Avoid grilling near deck railings, awnings, overhanging branches and other flammable objects
  • Never grill on a condo or apartment balcony.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill when it is hot.
  • Stay with the grill while you’re cooking
  • Keep the grill clean so leftover grease and fat will not catch on fire.

Permanent and portable fire pits can bring fire dangers if not used properly. Prevent fire or burn injury with these simple steps:

  •  Make sure the fire pit is at least 15 feet away from your house and anything that can burn.
  • Ensure that children and pets are kept a safe distance away.
  • Never leave any fire unattended.
  • Use a metal screen over wood-burning fires to keep sparks from floating out.
  • Make sure all fires are completely extinguished after use.
  • Store matches and lighters out of children’s sight and reach.

Pinellas County has had prohibitions in place regarding open burning for many years. Exceptions to the prohibition require permits. Permit requests are reviewed based on current weather conditions and state advisories. To learn more about existing open burning prohibitions, visitwww.pinellascounty.org/wildfires.

Pet Safety:

Pinellas County Animal Services reminds pet owners to keep a close eye on their pets during firework displays as these can lead to animals running loose onto roadways, getting lost or ending up in shelters.

“Pet owners should be aware that some dogs will do anything they can to escape the noise of fireworks,” said Pinellas County Animal Services Director Doug Brightwell. “One of the easiest ways for pet owners to ensure their pet won’t run away is by placing them in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area of the home.”

Other safety tips include:

  • Make sure pets are microchipped, licenses are current and tags are secured to pets’ collars.
  • Keep pets indoors in a cool, comfortable place with some minor noise distraction such as a radio or television.
  • Do not take pets to fireworks events.
  • When leaving town, make sure to leave pets with someone who will be particularly cautious and responsible during Fourth of July celebrations.
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