The Fourth of July: Fireworks and Fire Danger

American flags
On June 11, 1776, the Continental Congress gave the Committee of Five, which included Thomas Jefferson and John Adams among others, three weeks to draft a document that made a case for the colonies' independence from Great Britain. The American Revolution had already begun on April 19, 1775, but this document was meant to declare absolute independence from the crown.

Though the Declaration of Independence wasn't signed until much later, July 4 marks the day we remember our nation's independence. Every year since then, many celebrate the holiday with fireworks, barbecues and fellowship.

But the Fourth of July festivities can also bring about certain dangers caused by fireworks, bonfires and grilling. For instance, in 2011, fireworks caused 17,800 fires that resulted in eight civilian deaths and $32 million in property damage. Take these steps to help mitigate the possibility of your becoming a statistic:

  • If you’re burning anything, make sure all fires are being watched closely.
  • When cooking or burning, stay upwind to avoid smoke inhalation.
  • Avoid grilling near buildings or other structures, as well as low branches.
  • Keep children away from fires, grills, matches and lighters.
  • Use fireworks away from residences.
  • Have fire extinguishers readily available in case a fire flares up.
  • Do not burn or use fireworks if there is a burn ban in effect.
  • Do not become negligent or reckless while using potentially dangerous items.
  • If there is an emergency, do not hesitate to call 911.

These tips can help you avoid unexpected fire-related disaster, but unfortunately problems do arise despite our best efforts. When the time came for the colonists to gain independence from the British, the Committee of Five was ready. If it becomes necessary for you to respond to an emergency this Fourth of July, will you be ready?

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