The State Fire Marshal has several tips to prevent accidents that could lead to disaster.
First, never leave fires unattended. Wind, children or pets running by, or other unexpected mishaps could cause fire to escape containment.
When grilling with propane, it is important to check all tanks and fuel lines before using the grill.
Wearing loose clothing is not recommended. Those stylish Hawaiian shirts that go so well with an afternoon of partaking of grilled steak and beer can also drag into grease and flame and cause all sorts of havoc.
If you prefer the old-school charcoal grill, take extra care with lighter fluid. Pour the fuel over new charcoal to help ignite it, but never add lighter fluid to an already lit fire. The flame can flash back up to the container and cause it to explode.
Always extinguish coals properly, or make sure propane tanks are turned completely off after use.
Never grill in an enclosed space. Fire produces carbon monoxide, which is toxic to breathe. And be mindful of tree limbs and porch roofs as well. Fire and heat rise upward farther than the tops of the flames, and anything directly above a grill is in the line of fire.
Campfires merit a few more tips beyond those for grilling, but all of the above fire safety rules still apply.
Do not build a campfire where it can easily spread; be mindful of trees, dry grass and leave, and other potential hazards. Keep campfires small so they do not get out of hand and keep a shovel and water nearby to extinguish the fire.
Just because there are no flames does not mean the fire is extinguished. Coals should be dowsed with water and stirred several times until there is no more smoke or heat before it can be abandoned.
Extended dry weather makes it unsafe for open fires, and always follow specific rules set forth by parks and campgrounds.
With a little caution and common sense, and some marshmallows for s'mores, the summer camping and grilling season can be fun — and safe — for all.
HEATHER DUMAS may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 241, or firstname.lastname@example.org.