Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey is urging North Carolinians to stay safe this Independence Day by leaving fireworks to the professionals and by practicing safe techniques around the grills.

Fireworks and grilling are traditional parts of America’s Fourth of July celebration, but if not handled properly, both could end with a trip to the hospital or have the potential to cause damage.

“Fireworks go hand-in-hand with Fourth of July celebrations, but they can be so dangerous if not handled properly. Therefore, our message is simple — leave the fireworks to the professionals,” said Causey, who is also the state fire marshal. “And while a sizzling grill is a welcome sight and smell during celebrations with families and friends, it is important to make safety a priority.”

Seven out of 10 adults in the U.S. have a grill or smoker and, according to National Fire Protection Association, July is the peak month for grill fires.

To prevent grilling fires and keep residents safe while cooking outdoors, Causey recommends the following tips:

♦ Propane and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors.
♦ The grill should be placed far away from the home and deck railings.
♦ Keep children and pets at least 10 feet away from the grill area.
♦ Never leave your grill unattended and always open the gas grill lid before lighting it.
♦ If using starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire. Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children.
♦ When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.
♦ If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.

The best way to protect your family is to not use any fireworks at home. Instead, Commissioner Causey urges all North Carolinians to attend public fireworks displays performed by trained professionals licensed by the state.

After the display, do not pick up or touch leftover fireworks because they may still be active. If a child is injured by fireworks, immediately go to a doctor or hospital. If an eye injury occurs, don’t allow your child to touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage.

More than 9,000 people nationwide were treated for fireworks-related injuries with 62 percent of them occurring during the month surrounding the Fourth of July. Children under 5 years of age accounted for more than half of the total estimated injuries. North Carolina residents averaged 197 emergency department visits per year for firework-related injuries from 2017 to 2021 with the peak in 2020 at 229 visits.

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