Let freedom ring this summer with yummy grilled foods, family fun and fireworks!

As parents, we work really hard to keep our children healthy and safe. We would never, for example, encourage them to pick up a burning ember or touch a hot grill. If we're so protective of our offspring, why then do we, once a year (at least), knowingly hand even the younger ones a lit fireball and cheer as they wave it a mere arm's length from their little faces? I'm not suggesting we abolish sparklers—those ever-present Fourth of July fireworks kids all over North Texas wave in celebration of Independence Day—not at all.

But we are talking about playing with fire.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2017 there were approximately:

  • 12,900 fireworks-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms
  • About 8,700 (67%) treated between June 16 and July 16

Of those treated:

  • 70% were males/30% were females
  • 50% were under 20 years old and 36% were under 15 years old
  • Children 10 to 14 years old were the age group most treated
  • Approximately 1,200 were injured by sparklers, 300 by bottle rockets and 800 by firecrackers

So it can't hurt to brush up on how hot things can get on the Fourth. From fireworks to grilling to campfires and s'mores, we'll give you tips to keep your family burn-free.

How hot can things get? See if you can match each activity to its degree of heat:

1. Water boils at a) 700°F
2. Cakes bake at b) 1200°F (and up to 2,000°F)
3. Wood burns at c) 350°F
4. Sparklers burn at d) 212°F
5. Charcoal in a Smokey Joe® grill burns at e) 575°F

A couple of them are pretty easy. You probably know water boils at 212°F and most cakes bake at 350°F. But what about the others? Read on to find the answers.

Starry, starry night.

There's nothing quite like a Fourth of July fireworks show to make you feel good about living in the U.S. of A. Here's how to enjoy yours safely:

  • Consider attending one of the many DFW fireworks shows and leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals
  • If that's not an option, know and obey all local laws regarding fireworks
  • Use fireworks outdoors in areas clear of people, homes, trees and other flammable materials
  • Keep a bucket of water or a hose nearby
  • Supervise children at all times and don't allow horseplay
  • Don't give fireworks to children younger than 5 years old; even those considered safe like sparklers, which burn at 1,200°F and higher
  • Don't relight duds; soak them in water and dispose of them
  • Don't try to light fireworks in the dark; use a non-flammable light source so you can see what you're doing
  • Wear safety goggles and heat-resistant gloves

Following these commonsense tips should ensure a fun and sparkly independence day, but be sure you know what to do if someone gets burned.

Grill master.

You're the king of kebabs. The ruler of ribs. The minister of meat. You're the grill master. But are you practicing grilling safety? According to the National Fire Protection Association:

  • In 2014, 16,600 people sought ER treatment for grilling injuries
  • More grill fires happen May through August, and July is No. 1
  • While gas grills start more home fires than charcoal grills, coals in a Smokey Joe® grill burn at 700°F and higher.

The rules of safe grilling are pretty simple:

  • Use grills outdoors away from flammable structures
  • Man your grill at all times
  • Keep a squirt bottle of water or a fire extinguisher handy
  • Keep kids and pets away from grills
  • Wear high-heat oven mitts and use utensils made for grilling
  • Keep your grill clean and check propane connection points annually

Cooking over an open wood fire.

It might be too hot to gather around a wood fire in the middle of summer, but it's still a great way to cook your meats and marshmallow treats. Here's what happens when you light the fire:

  • At 212°F, any water inside the wood boils and escapes as steam

This is typically when dad starts squirting lighter fluid like there's no tomorrow. And why it's a good idea to start with dry wood.

  • At around 575°F the wood begins to burn from the release of combustible gases that ignite when they contact an open flame

But that's just the beginning. As the gases continue to burn, they can raise the temperature of the wood to 1,100°F or even higher, depending on the size of the fire and other dynamics.

Fiery fact: You can receive a third-degree burn from as little as 1 second of contact with a piece of wood heated to 160°F.

Here's how to stay safe around the campfire:

  • Build fires in designated pits on flat, open areas away from flammable objects
  • Use only seasoned hardwoods and natural kindling to light and maintain fires
  • Wear high-temp oven mitts and use appropriate outdoor cooking utensils to hold food over flames
  • Adults should remove cooked food from skewers to avoid burning little hands
  • An adult should supervise the fire at all times until it has been completely extinguished

For more fire safety and burn prevention tips, read Don't Get Burned: Know the Top Rules of Fire Safety.

For serious burn treatment, Medical City Plano Burn & Reconstructive Centers of Texas provides high-level burn care and serves patients from Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Louisiana and beyond.

For fast, emergency help with these common health symptoms and more, look to one of our many Medical City ER locations across North Texas. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City ER near you or visit Medical City Virtual Care for non-emergency medical treatment from your computer or smartphone.

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Revised 6/7/2019


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