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Officials encourage caution when using fireworks, fire pits, grills

Published On: Jul 04 2014 07:48:36 AM EDT   Updated On: Jul 04 2014 08:55:43 PM EDT

Safety tips if you're planning to set off fireworks during the holiday weekend.


Whether you're grilling, using fireworks or fire pits this Fourth of July weekend, chances are, you'll come in contact with fire. Emergency responders encourage families to use caution.

WDBJ7 spoke to Roanoke City Fire Marshal Daniel Rakes. He shares some tips on how to safely use fire pits:

  • The city allows fire pits at most, five feet in diameter.
  • You can buy small fire pits at your local home improvement store.
  • Check your local government's policies on whether bonfires are allowed.
  • You can visit your government office and apply for a permit for a bonfire, depending on your hometown's ordinances.
  • Supervise children, and keep everyone away from the fire.
  • Never light it with a flammable liquid -- use kindling, newspaper, etc.
  • Always pour water on remaining ashes and wood to make sure it's fully extinguished to prevent future fires.
  • Fire pits must be 10 feet from any combustible part of a structure.
  • You have to burn clean, dry, seasoned fire wood. You cannot use trash.
  • If the smoke creates a nuisance for your neighbors, Roanoke city has an ordinance that allows officials to have you put that fire out.

Rakes warns you must be careful with fireworks, and always use legal ones:

  • Keep children away and don't let them play with fireworks.
  • Hold fireworks/sparklers away from you and others. Your clothing or hair could catch fire.
  • Most retail stores and tents set up in your hometown have legal fireworks you can buy. Rakes says most are state-inspected.
  • If caught with illegal fireworks, you can be sentence to up to one year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.
  • For example, a legal firework is a sparkler. It doesn't project anything or move around. It just has small sparks that go off.

Mark Rowland, pro sales manager at Home Depot on Hershberger Road, says grilling can have its fair share of dangers:

  • Pay attention to your grill, whether it uses gas or charcoal.
  • If gas leaks, there's a chance for fire and strong fumes.
  • When using your gas grill, screw on the connection tightly and properly.
  • After you grill, make sure that you turn the gas off using the connection. Simply turning the grill's on/off knob doesn't turn off the gas.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy.
  • Keep the grilling outdoors and away from homes with vinyl sidings.
  • Beware of carbon monoxide.
  • Clean the grill after use to prevent future flare ups.
  • The higher the fat content of the meat you're cooking, the better the chance for a flame up.