Gearing up for the Independence Day holiday likely means family picnics, being outside and enjoying a fireworks display. But have you ever wondered how long can you let food sit out before it starts to go bad? Or when your next-door neighbor surprises the kiddos with sparklers and firecrackers, how do you make sure everyone stays safe?
You’ve got questions – we’ve got you covered. We’ve rounded up our best Independence Day tips and information in preparation for the upcoming holiday weekend.
FIREWORKS AND SPARKLERS
Fireworks and sparklers are a beloved tradition at the Fourth of July – but it’s important to remember they pose a serious risk of burns, injuries or house and structure fires.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that sparklers can burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit—that’s as hot as a blow torch! Sparklers, which cause 9% of all fireworks burns and other injuries, are especially likely to injure children.
Of course, no one wants an accident to fizzle their Fourth of July fun. The National Safety Council says the safest way to celebrate is to forego fireworks and leave the pyrotechnics to the pros. Glow sticks, silly string and noise makers are safe and festive alternatives.
If you choose to use fireworks at your celebration, consider the following tips to celebrate safely:
- Follow your federal and local laws. Avoid the temptation to cross state lines to get “the big stuff.” Make sure your firework purchase is legal and safe by brushing up on your federal fireworks laws and local fireworks laws.
- Dress appropriately. To avoid burns and other injuries, wear eye and ear protection, close toed shoes and avoid loose clothing.
- Use one firework at a time. Light each firework individually to keep things under control.
- Create a safe environment. By now, you are an experienced social distancer. Channel that skill and stand clear of other people when lighting fireworks. That also goes for nearby buildings, vehicles and flammable objects.
- Dispose of fireworks properly. Sparkler sticks and fireworks can retain heat even after they burn out. Soak all used and unused fireworks in water and then throw them away in a metal trashcan. This will prevent the fireworks from burning other garbage.
- Keep water close. Summon your inner firefighter and keep a source of water handy in case of an emergency.
- Never relight fireworks. Don’t be a “dud” – dispose of dud fireworks in a bucket of water. Attempting to reignite them can create a dangerous situation.
Read our related blog story on sparkler safety tips for more safety precautions.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that an average of 8,900 home fires are started by grills each year. These numbers peak during the month of July. Take the following precautions to keep you and your guests safe.
- Clean your grill. If it’s been a while since your grill got some TLC, be sure to go through the trays and gates with a steel brush and wipe them clean with a wet towel. This will prevent any buildup from catching fire when you start cooking.
- Give your grill space. The NFPA advises that grills be placed at least 10 feet away from other structures. This includes surfaces like porches, garages or breezeways.
- Stay close. You want to be a good host, but leaving the grill unattended to chat with your guests can be a fire risk. So make grilling a social activity — grab a friend or two and take turns flipping burgers and cracking jokes.
- Set clear rules. It is important that everyone, especially the kids, understand the safety rules that you feel are necessary. You don’t want any wandering fingers or flying beach balls landing too close to the grill.
For more guidance on grill-side safety, read our related article on grilling safety tips.
Foodborne illness is no joke, so we’ve gathered key tips to keep food the star of your party, not the enemy.
- Use a food thermometer. It’s tempting to say you know when the food is done just by looking at it, but even grill masters need help making this important call. According to the USDA, using a food thermometer is the only way to know your food is safe to eat. Read about minimum safe internal temperatures before starting up the grill.
- Do not cross contaminate. Keep raw meat and everything that touches it away from other foods. Watch out for common food safety mistakes, like thawing food on the counter or mixing grilling utensils with cooked foods.
Read the full list of tips in our related article on cookout and food safety.
LOOKING AFTER YOU
At Erie Insurance, we value your safety this Independence Day and every day. That’s why we go out of our way to help you protect the things that matter most. Talk to your local ERIE agent today to find the right homeowners insurance coverage for you and your family.