SFMO: Don’t Give Fire Safety a Vacation this Summer!

Summer Brings Fire Risks at Home with Grills, Lawnmowers
Wednesday, July 10, 2019 | 09:01am

NASHVILLE – While school is out and temperatures rise, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) is reminding Tennesseans to not send fire safety on a summer vacation. Overall, summer is statistically less deadly than winter when it comes to fires. However, summer comes with its own set of dangers that parents and homeowners shouldn’t forget. Remember: Your family’s survival during a home fire this summer could depend on the preparations you take today.   

Historical fire data from the Tennessee Fire Incident Reporting System (TFIRS) illustrates some of the fire risks during the summertime. Consider:

  • Tennessee fire departments have reported an increase in certain types of equipment-related structure fires during the summer. During the summer months, air-conditioning units are over 2.5 times as likely to cause a fire, grills are over twice as likely to cause a fire, and lawn mowers are nearly 3.5 times as likely to cause a fire.
  • The chance of a structure fire occurring at night (between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m.) is higher in the summer than it is in the winter, based on fire statistics.
  • The week of July 4th is the most dangerous week of the summer when it comes to structure fires. While some of the risk can be attributed to an increase in fireworks-related fires, other summer-related activities like outdoor grilling, camping, and lawn care also contribute to inherent fire risk.

“While summer can be a time of rest and relaxation, it doesn’t mean consumers should let fire safety slip their minds,” said Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Interim Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Carter Lawrence. “Summer is a great time to practice your home fire escape plan with the whole family and ensure your smoke alarms are in working order.”

To help Tennesseans stay fire-safe this summer, the SFMO shares the following summer fire safety tips to remember all summer:

Around the House

  • Remove leaves and trash from carports and garages as combustible materials are dangerous if exposed to heated automobile or lawn care equipment components, especially those on the underside of the vehicle or lawn mower.
  • Never refuel a lawn mower while it’s still hot. 
  • Always let lawn mowers and other gas-powered equipment cool down before storing them inside.
  • Check gasoline containers for leaks. Never bring gasoline indoors, even in small amounts. Store gas containers in an outbuilding, detached garage, or a shed outdoors.
  • Use gasoline only as motor fuel, never as a cleaner.
  • Rags that have been used to clean up spills of combustible or flammable liquids such as gasoline, paint thinner, oil-based paints, stains, and varnishes can start a fire if not handled with care. Never leave these cleaning rags in a pile. Take them outside to dry, then place the dried rags in a tightly-covered metal container filled with water and detergent solution to break down the oils.
  • Lit citronella candles and torches should be placed outside out the reach of children and well away from flammable materials such as overhangs or branches. Ensure flames are completely extinguished before leaving the area or going to bed.
  • Always observe burn bans and check with your local and state authorities on outdoor burning regulations
  • Ensure your home is equipped with working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in sleeping areas and on every level of the house.
  • Practice a home fire escape plan with all occupants that includes two ways out of every room and a designated outside meeting place.

Out and About

  •  Choose a hotel or vacation rental that is equipped with both smoke alarms and fire sprinklers.
  •  If you are going on a trip, turn off or unplug unnecessary appliances and electronics before you leave the house
  •  Never throw lit cigarettes out of a car as they have potential to ignite dry vegetation and other combustible materials.
  •  Build campfires at least 15 feet away from tent walls, shrubs or other materials that burn. Never leave the camping area without putting out the campfire.
  •  Ensure working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are installed inside vacation rental homes, campers, and RVs
  • . To prevent injury, consider attending a public fireworks display instead of setting off your own. Children should never handle or ignite fireworks, including sparklers.

To help keep your family fire safe this summer, the SFMO has created this helpful video.