The Shamokin Fire Bureau and the United States Fire Administration (USFA) have provided grilling safety and firework tips in time for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend.

An estimated 5,700 grill fires on residential properties occur annually in the United States resulting in $27 million in damage and 150 injuries each year.

Choosing equipment

- Always use cooking equipment tested and approved by a recognized testing facility.

- Follow manufacturers' instructions and code requirements when installing and operating cooking equipment.

Grilling safely

- Never leave a barbecue grill unattended.

- Place the grill well away from siding, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. Don't use or store on a porch or balcony.

- Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic.

- Keep children and pets away from the grill area. Have a 3-foot "kid-free zone" around the grill.

- Use long-handled grilling tools for plenty of clearance from heat and flames when cooking food.

- Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below the grill to avoid flare-ups.

- Use only outdoors. If used indoors or in any enclosed spaces, grills pose both a fire and carbon monoxide hazard.

Charcoal grills

- Purchase the proper starter fluid and store out of reach of children and away from heat sources.

- Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use any flammable liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going.

- Dispose of charcoal coals only after they are cool. Empty the coals into a metal container with a tight-fitting lid that is used only to collect coals. Place the container away from anything that can burn. Never empty coals directly into a trash can.

Propane grills

- Check the propane cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will reveal escaping propane quickly by releasing bubbles.

- If you determined your grill has a gas leak by smell or the soapy bubble test and there is no flame, then turn off the tank and grill. If that stops the leak, have the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call 911.

- If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.

- All propane cylinders manufactured after April 2002 must have overfill protection devices (OPD). OPDs shut off the flow of propane before capacity is reached, limiting the potential for gas release if the cylinder heats up. OPDs are easily identified by their triangular-shaped hand wheel.

- Never store propane cylinders in buildings or garages. If you store a gas grill inside during the winter, disconnect the cylinder and leave the cylinder outside.

- Light a propane grill only with the cover open.


- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.

- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

- Avoid buying fireworks that come in brown paper packaging, because this is a sign the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.

- Adults should always supervise fireworks activities. Parents often don't realize that there are many injuries from sparklers to children under five. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.

- Never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move back to a safe distance immediately after lighting.

- Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not fully functioned.

- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.

- Light one item at a time then move back quickly.

- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

- After fireworks fully complete their functioning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding to prevent a trash fire.