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Springtime fire safety

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Every year Americans look forward to spring break, vacations, camping, family reunions and picnics. However, outdoor activities bring the risk of fire and injuries due to outdoor cooking and grilling accidents and improper use of flammable liquids.

In fact, the U.S. Fire Administration's National Fire Data Center estimates that outside cooking grills cause more than 6,000 fires, over 5 fatalities, more than 170 injuries and $35 million in property loss each year.

Spring and summertime should be a time for fun and happy memories. Knowing these fire safety tips and following these instructions will help everyone have a safe summer.

--All cooking operations should be constantly supervised. Children and pets need to remain a safe distance from cooking devices. Do not wear loose fitting clothing while cooking because many fabrics are easily ignited.

--Gas grills alone cause over 2,700 fires, 80 injuries and $11 million in damages. Prior to beginning any outdoor cooking always perform a safety check to ensure all gas connections are tight, gas tubes are not blocked and there are not any gas leaks. Most of the gas grill fires and explosions were caused by gas leaks, blocked tubes and overfilled propane tanks.

--If you're utilizing solid cooking fuels (wood, charcoal, etc.) for your outdoor cooking, it will probably involve the use of flammable liquids. Always utilize an approved starter fluid and never substitute with gas or kerosene. Only add starter fluid to unlit, cool, solid fuels; the majority of burn injuries occur when individuals add fluid to hot coals. Use extreme caution when performing the initial lighting as accumulations of flammable gas can often cause violent ignitions.

--Outdoor cooking devices (grills, cookers, deep fryers, etc.) should never be used inside living quarters, carports, garages, under overhangs or under wooden pavilions.

--Whenever cooking outdoors, always have a serviceable ABC portable fire extinguisher readily available to mitigate unsafe conditions. If you experience an emergency situation, or require medical assistance call "911."

If you follow these tips, you and your friends can have a safe, memorable spring and summer.