A Safer Summer

Wheeling Fire Department officials would like to offer fire safety tips for area residents for the summer season, due to a potential increase in fires and injuries caused by outdoor cooking grills, fire pits and fireworks.

“There is an increase in fires due to grills and things like that … most of those happen in June, July and August,” said Capt. Deric Jamison, who said people should exercise caution while using their outdoor grills.

Assistant Chief Ed Geisel Sr. said residents should also exercise caution while using their patio burning pits.

“Check you manufacturing instructions on the proper use of them. You might keep an extinguisher or garden hose nearby and you never want to overload them,” he added.

Geisel said it is important to keep a fire pit more than 15 feet away from your house and not use anything that can spark up such as paper, cardboard or soft woods.

Geisel said the department continues to receive more calls each year dealing with fire pits.

“We have gotten an increase in complaints – and that’s because of smoke getting in other people’s houses … or their afraid that the embers are going to come into their house. … Don’t burn trash,” Geisel added.

He said the best way to protect your family from fireworks is to attend public fireworks displays – leaving the lighting to the professionals.

“Fireworks are dangerous. They are dangerous for the professionals. … If it makes a bang, it’s probably illegal and it’s no good,” said Geisel.

A special study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows fireworks were involved in an estimated 9,600 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments in 2011 alone.

Geisel said there is a big increase in what he calls “home fireworks participation” over the Fourth of July holiday.

“If you send a bottle rocket in the air, where does it land? Is it going to land on your neighbor’s roof?” said Geisel.

“Even sparklers for the kids – they can burn around 2,000 degrees,” said Jamison, pointing out that most injuries with sparklers involve children under five years of age. “If you’re going to use them, they have to be supervised.”