Memorial Day Hazards and Summer Fires
Memorial Day marks the official start of the “summer season,” when homeowners host barbecues, pool parties, and other summer get-togethers. Homeowners visit with friends and family, enjoying the pleasant weather.
Unfortunately, summer parties also create the potential for serious injury, and even fatalities. Homeowners need to exercise care to minimize risks and create the safest possible environment for gatherings.
Fires present one of the most serious–and most common–risks at summer gatherings.
Let’s look at some common fire dangers to beware at summer events.
BARBECUES AND GRILLS
Everyone loves a barbecue, but barbecues and grills create a serious hazard of fires and burns. Never leave a hot barbecue or grill unattended, even after the meal is finished. Take particular care in the presence of children and other persons unable to recognize the risks of fire and flames.
Children (or even adults) may accidentally bump, touch, or run into grills, incurring serious burns.
In addition to keeping the grill attended (arrange for another responsible person to bring food to the grill from kitchens or other areas, to ensure the grill is never left alone), make sure that grills have tight-fitting covers and sit away from backyard traffic and places where children may run and play.
FIRE PITS AND CHIMINEAS
Many people enjoy a summer evening by the fire pit or chiminea, enjoying cool drinks and warm s’mores or hot dogs. However, any device with an open flame creates a danger of burns, or even death, for a child (or adult, or pet) who ventures too close or falls into the fire.
Sparks create a serious danger to life and also to property. Sparks may fly from chimineas, fire pits, and barbecues when fuel is added or when disturbing coals. Use proper grates, shielding, and other protective devices to minimize sparks, and never allow small children, guests, or pets to stand near fires. Also, place chimineas and fire pits in safe locations, away from dry grasses and other flammable substances, and keep fires to a reasonable size. Overbuilding fires creates additional hazards, as chimineas may crack or break when exposed to temperatures beyond manufacturers’ design specifications.
FIREWORKS AND SPARKLERS
Fireworks are illegal in many California counties, but people often purchase fireworks in other places and bring them into counties where private use and display are against the law. Never, ever, succumb to the temptation of using or displaying fireworks (or even sparklers) if local laws prohibit their use.
Even where fireworks are legal, homeowners should exercise extreme caution in the time, location, and manner of fireworks use. Do not allow minors to light or play with fireworks. Never use fireworks in dry areas, or in locations where sparks could ignite dry brush, landscaping, or other flammable materials. Keep water buckets and hoses handy, and wet down lawns to minimize fire risks.
Most importantly: never assume or believe that fireworks are safe. Even the “safest” conditions still create serious risks of injury, property loss, and death. The decision to use fireworks should be taken only by adults, only in areas where fireworks are legally permitted, and only after a thorough investigation–and acceptance–of the risks.
If you or your family members are injured at a summer gathering, by fire or otherwise, seek medical help immediately and consult an experienced attorney if you believe you may have rights to a legal recovery. Do not attempt to evaluate your legal rights alone. Talk with experienced personal injury counsel, and do so promptly, or you may lose your right to a recovery.