Guest Column: Independence Day Ignition

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4th of July fireworks schedule

We have not seen rain in several months. Fuel moisture content is at 0 percent. We are at what we call 100 percent probability of ignition. This means the tiniest spark can start a fire.

The Fourth of July can be a fun time with great memories. But before you, your family and friends celebrate, make sure everyone knows about Fourth of July safety. If not handled properly, fireworks, barbecues and high temperatures can be dangerous and cause injuries to children, adults and pets. 

Fireworks safety: First and foremost, make sure fireworks are legal in your community. Check with your local fire department. If they are allowed, always read directions. Use outdoors only. Do not use near grass or other flammable materials. Light one at a time. Spectators need to keep a safe distance. Never point or throw fireworks at people or objects. Always have a garden hose, bucket of water or a fire extinguisher nearby. Never attempt to relight or fix fireworks. Stand several feet away from lit fireworks. When disposing of used fireworks, soak them in a bucket or trash can of water overnight, away from the house or garage. A responsible adult should be in charge of the activities. Never use fireworks while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Did you know a sparkler burns at 1,200 degrees? Think about that before handing one to a child! [Note: “Fireworks are strictly prohibited within the Malibu city limits,” according to a 2015 city ordinance.]  

Barbecue safety: Keep grills away from anything that can burn, such as your house, combustibles or dry vegetation. Don’t leave the grill unattended while it’s cooking. Keep children and pets away from the grill. For charcoal grills, only use starter fluid designed for grills; never use gasoline or other accelerants. Do not add lighter fluid to an already lit fire. Before using a gas grill, check the connection between the propane tank and the fuel. Make sure coals are completely extinguished and cold before disposing of them. Never wear loose clothing when cooking. Never barbecue indoors.

It will be warm outside: Don’t get dehydrated—consume lots of water and make sure your pets have lots of water. Keep them inside as loud noise will scare them. If outside, they may run away. When outdoors, stay in the shade as much as possible and avoid direct sun. Avoid severe sun burn by applying sunblock.

For additional Fourth of July safety information, contact your local fire department.

As a fire chief, my advice: Leave it to the professionals! It is safer and you won’t watch your money go up in smoke!

Be safe and have a happy Fourth of July!