S’more summer fire safety

Wendy SmithFarragut, The Farragut Insider

Farragut Fire Marshal Dan Johnson was late for his appointment with the Farragut Insider last week because of an afternoon fire call. The fire was the result of food being left on a hot stove – a fairly common mistake, Dan says. Fortunately, this time, there were no injuries and very little damage. Thank you, Rural Metro.

Fire is like that. It sneaks up when people are doing ordinary things on ordinary days. But the second week of July is the most dangerous week of the summer when it comes to structure fires, according to the state Fire Marshal’s Office. Fireworks are an obvious hazard (think of tiny bombs being lit by children and aimed at trees and houses) but other normal summer activities also drive the statistics.

The main thing to keep in mind, Dan says, is keeping hot appliances away from anything combustible. And most of our homes are surrounded by combustibles.

“Unless your house is all brick or stone, it has combustible material on the outside. And most residences have mulch, pine straw or wood or composite decking.”

Here are a few ways to avoid an unwanted fire in the summer months:

Fireworks: Yep, they’re illegal in Knox County. Plus, they’re just plain dangerous. It’s true that sparklers, the favorite firework for small children, can reach 1200 degrees. Dan recommends finding a public fireworks display. Click here for a list of shows and other safe Fourth of July events.

Grilling: Grills should be operated well away from siding and deck rails. Dan recommends that grills be placed on a non-combustible mat if they are on a deck, and putting them on a solid surface, like a patio or driveway, is even better. Summer is a popular time to entertain, which can result in food being left unattended on grills and the stovetop, resulting in burned dinner and, possibly, a 911 call.

Lawn Care: Never refuel a lawnmower while it’s hot, and always let lawnmowers and other gas-powered equipment cool down before storing them, he says. Remove leaves and other trash from carports and garages so they won’t catch on fire if exposed to hot cars or lawn equipment.

Camping: Build campfires at least 15 feet from tents or vegetation, and always extinguish campfires before leaving the campsite. Lit candles and torches should also be placed away from combustible materials and out of reach of children. Working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be installed in campers and RVs, as well as vacation rental homes, Dan says.

I shouldn’t have to say it but working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms at home can save lives. If you don’t have smoke alarms, get them. If you have them, make sure they work. Smoke alarms generally last 10 years, and carbon monoxide alarms last 6-8 years, according to Dan.

It’s summer, so get out there and have a good time! Just don’t let the fun distract you from keeping your home and family safe from fire.

“Fire safety should never take a vacation,” Dan says.

Town of Farragut communications manager Wendy Smith is your reliable Farragut insider.

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