It’s time to clean up the grill and break out the hot dogs, lawn chairs and American flags. Summer is in full swing and Independence Day is upon us. And though rain is in the forecast for Thursday, it’s unlikely everyone will hole up in their homes and spend the day indoors. Even for those who might otherwise want to spend the day in front of the TV, the Fourth of July beckons to gather outside with friends, and even strangers, to celebrate the holiday.
Many people will be spending the day, or at least a good portion of it, in the backyard with burgers on the grill and cold beverages in hand, making this a good time to remind people to be careful when cooking outdoors. It only takes a second for a fire to get out of control or for little hands to learn “hot” the hard way.
Area emergency services offer the following tips when using outdoor grills:
• Keep children and pets from the grill area; declare a 3-foot “safe zone” around the grill.
• When using a charcoal grill, purchase the proper starter fluid and store it out of reach of children and away from heat sources.
• Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling already have been ignited, and never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going.
• When using a propane grill, 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 smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.
July 4 is also a time for sparklers and bottle rockets, but all fireworks — no matter how small — can be dangerous if not used properly and under close supervision. In most cases, it’s best to leave the fireworks display to the professionals, but for anyone planning to light up the backyard, Bryan County Emergency Services suggests these safety tips:
• Light fireworks outdoors, one at a time, on a clear, smooth, flat surface away from houses, dry leaves or grass or flammable materials.
• Keep water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on misfired or spent fireworks.
• Be sure other people and pets are out of range.
• Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas. Store them in a dry, cool place out of the reach of children.
For those looking to get out and about, there is certainly no lack of fun to be had in the days ahead. Fort McAllister will hold its annual celebration from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, and the day at the state historic park will be chock full of musket and cannon firings, demonstrations and drills, games and even watermelon seed-spitting contests — all with the Civil War era in mind. Richmond Hill will have its annual fete in honor of the red, white and blue all day Saturday in J.F. Gregory Park, complete with live music, fishing, water slides for kids, face painting and of course a fireworks display set to go off around 9 p.m. And if you find yourself in downtown Savannah, River Street will be bustling with music and events from Thursday-Saturday, with fireworks over the river planned for 9:30 p.m.
Whatever your plans, may you have a safe and happy Fourth of July.