Summer grilling, campfire safety

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- The summer season is upon us, and it’s time to get outside and enjoy the weather. Following the fire safety tips below can help the fire service reduce the potential of fires throughout this summer.

Grilling safety
• Keep grills at least 10 feet from any structure. Grilling mishaps cause more than 8,300 fires and send 3,000 people to the emergency room each year.
• Never grill indoors or near garages or porches, even if it's raining.
• Never leave the grill unattended, especially when young children or pets are nearby.
• Never use gasoline or kerosene to light a charcoal fire. Both can cause an explosion.
• When grilling, use insulated, flame-retardant mitts, long handled barbeque tongs and utensils to handle food and coals.
• Let coals/ash cool in the grill for at least 24 hours before disposing of them. Never empty hot/warm coals into a garbage receptacle, especially not into a plastic receptacle.

Campfire safety
A campfire is a necessary part of camping. It helps light campsites up at night, boils water and cooks food. It’s fun to gather around a campfire and tell chilling ghost stories late at night. Unfortunately, it is one of the most dangerous elements of any campsite. The following campfire safety tips will help keep the fire in the fire ring and prevent spreading.
• Learn how to safely start a fire. Never use flammable liquids to ignite or keep a fire burning. This means avoid gasoline, diesel fuel, lighter fluid and other dangerous fuels.
• Only start a campfire in a fire pit or fire ring that is made of solid construction.
• Avoid starting a fire underneath low-hanging branches or shrubbery. Fires can often flame higher than anticipated.
• Don't stack spare firewood too close; store it upwind so that sparks don't fly into the pile.
• Don't allow children and pets near the campfire and never leave them unsupervised.
• Teach kids how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire. Have a fire extinguisher handy for emergencies.
• Keep the fire away from anything flammable, such as dry grass, tents, paper plates, napkins and camping gear.
• Be aware that hot embers can re-ignite the fire if strong winds are blowing. Shuffle the fire and make sure it's our before retiring.
• Always have items on hand to put out a fire such as water, a shovel and a fire extinguisher. Ensure the fire is completely out before leaving it unattended.

Putting out a campfire:
• Drown the fire with water. Make sure all embers, coals and sticks are wet. Move rocks; there may be burning embers underneath.
• Stir the remains, add more water, and stir again. Be sure all burned material has been extinguished and cooled. If water isn’t available, use dirt. Mix enough soil and sand with the embers. Continue adding and stirring until all material is cooled.
• Feel all materials with a bare hand. Make sure that no roots are burning.
• Do not bury coals-- they can smolder and rekindle. Coals buried on the beach can also be stepped on by someone walking barefoot, causing painful and disabling burns to the soles of the feet. 

Malmstrom Fire Emergency Services greatly appreciates your support. For fire safety related questions, call 731-4098, 731-4100 or 731-4836.
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