By Guest Blogger Teresa Neal, Lead for the U.S. Fire Administration’s (USFA) Public Education Program, Prevention and Information Branch
Summer is an exciting time. I am looking forward to spending time outside, going to the pool or beach, enjoying picnics with friends and family and, of course, vacation.
However, fire never takes a vacation. Even in the festive summertime, you need to test the batteries in your smoke alarms every month and practice your home escape plan. Know two ways out of every room. If you have trouble hearing the alarm, there are alarms available with strobe lights and bed shakers to ensure you wake up when the alarm sounds.
If you stay in a hotel, make sure you become familiar with where the exits are located. Count the doors from your room to the exit. Know where the stairs are. If you are unable to use the stairs unassisted, consider requesting a first floor room and let the front desk know that in case of an emergency, you may require some additional assistance.
Summertime also brings fires and injuries due to fireworks and outdoor cooking. Knowing a few fire safety tips will help you enjoy these activities safely.
The best way to protect your family is not to use fireworks at home. Leave that to the professionals and enjoy a community display. Fireworks are very dangerous. The tip of a sparkler is hotter than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit; this is hot enough to cause third-degree burns.
Grilled hamburgers and hot dogs are my summertime favorites, but before you start that grill this summer, check the connection between the propane tank and the fuel line. Make sure the fuel lines don’t have any cracks or holes in them. Once you know your grill is in good working condition, make sure you use it safely. Always open the grill lid before lighting. Do not add lighter fluid to an already lit fire and keep a three-foot safety zone around the grill. Use long handled utensils to keep your hands and arms away from the heat.
Summer is a time for fun and happy memories, but don’t forget to practice fire safety. Remember, Fire is Everyone’s Fight™. We all have a role to play in keeping ourselves and loved ones safe!
Teresa Neal is the lead for the U.S. Fire Administration’s (USFA) public education program, as part of the Prevention and Information Branch, and manages the “Fire is Everyone’s Fight” campaign. Teresa has been a liaison with the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, on the public education and communications group for the Indian Health Service and with the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Educational Messaging Advisory Committee.
Teresa plays a vital role in building the USFA team who track and report the daily Civilian Report on Fire Fatalities, and is one of the authors of outstanding monthly content for the Focus on Fire Safety.
Teresa is a U.S. Army veteran who served as an interrogator and Russian/Serbian linguist in the 1990s. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business and international business from The Pennsylvania State University. She and her family live in Waynesboro, PA.