Being Safe Outdoors

Fire and burn injuries don’t take a summer vacation. Outdoor cooking, camping, sunshine and fireworks are part of summer fun — and simple precautions can help keep these activities safe.

Grill safety

No matter what type of grill you use — charcoal, propane or natural gas — establish a “no-kid” zone around the grill and make sure you follow all instructions for safely using the equipment. If you use charcoal, use only an approved lighter/starter and wait for at least 60 seconds before lighting fluid-soaked charcoal. Place the fluid container well away from the grill before trying to light the charcoal, and never add lighter/starter fluid to hot or even warm coals. When using propane or natural gas grills, regularly check all connections using soapy water; if bubbles surface, there is a leak. Shut the tank valve off and tighten connections or have a certified dealer service the grill before using it again. Carefully follow the manufacturer’s directions for lighting the grill, and make sure to periodically clean the tubes that distribute the gas under the grill according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Store propane tanks in a well-ventilated location away from residences, and always have a BC-type fire extinguisher in the grilling area.

Common-sense camping

When camping out away from home or in the back yard, use a tent made of flame-retardant fabric. Use flashlights rather than oil lanterns or candles. Build any campfires downwind and far away from the tent, and properly extinguish any fire that will not be attended. An adult should always supervise children around fires. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher or tools (i.e. shovel, bucket of water) on hand. Never use heat-producing appliances such as lights, heaters or cooking appliances in a tent. If you store propane/gasoline for cook stoves in the car trunk, open the trunk periodically to ventilate it. Never add a flammable liquid to a fire or hot coals. Strictly observe all fire laws ordinances and regulations.

Leave fireworks to professionals

There really is no safe way to use fireworks yourself, and even sparklers are illegal in many communities.

Downed utility lines

Call the utility company. Never touch a downed power line or anything that is in contact with it, not even with an object such as a broom or stick. If someone is in direct or indirect contact with a downed line, do not touch the person— call for emergency help.

Sun sense

Select shaded areas for outdoor activities. Wear protective clothing and hats. Use a sunscreen with a protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, and make sure it has both UVA and UVB protection. Re-apply sunscreen after swimming and every 2 to 3 hours, and follow package instructions for application. If using more than one substance, such as an insect repellent, always put the sunscreen on first and wait 30 minutes before applying the next spray or lotion. Healthcare professionals recommend that you avoid tanning, tanning beds and sun lamps. Some prescription medications can make your skin more sensitive to UV rays, so ask your doctor for advice before you head for the sunshine.

To learn more, visit the American Burn Association Web site at

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