Baltimore County News
Natalie Litofsky, Public Safety Information Specialist
Baltimore County Fire Department
July 4th weekend is one of the most popular occasions for family and community cookouts. While you’re serving up burgers and hotdogs, it’s also important to remember that safety is still a serious element of summer fun.
The Baltimore County Fire Department recommends that backyard grillers carefully read specific product information after buying new barbeque equipment, and that they review this information each year.
County law prohibits the use of charcoal or propane-fueled grills – or any other open-flame cooking or heating device – on any balcony or within 15 feet of multi-family buildings such as apartments. This restriction does not apply to townhouses or single family homes.
Liquefied petroleum gas (propane) used to fire gas barbecue grills, is highly flammable. Propane is contained under pressure in a steel cylinder. Vaporized and in a confined area, it has the explosive force of several sticks of dynamite.
You should never use a gas grill inside of a structure or store the propane tanks inside of any part of a structure, such as an enclosed porch or balcony. Keep propane tanks in a shady or cool area outside and in the upright position so the relief valve is on top.
Inspect propane grill hoses and connections prior to use. Make sure all fixtures, valves, and caps on propane canisters are working and are tightened properly. If the hose has deteriorated or the fittings are loose, do not use the grill until you correct the problem.
Although they may be eager to help, you should never let young children use a gas-powered barbecue grill.
Never use a charcoal barbecue in an enclosed space or inside the house. Combustion of charcoal produces carbon monoxide, which can be deadly. You should place a charcoal grill on a non-combustible surface a safe distance away from any structure.
It’s very important that you keep children away from a charcoal grill, because there is serious risk of both injury and spreading fire if they were to knock it over.
Do not use lighter fluid on a fire that has already been started. If you need to use a starter fluid, use only charcoal lighter fluid and follow the directions on the container. Never use gasoline or any other flammable liquid to start a grill.
After you are finished grilling, pour water on the charcoal or ashes before disposal so they will not restart a fire.
Important Tips from Safety Experts
This kind of cold weather is not just unpleasant, it can be dangerous. Baltimore County’s safety experts have some important tips for protecting your home and family.
DPW Says Let Faucets Drip
Baltimore County’s Department of Public Works advises homeowners to let water taps drip during this week’s extreme cold weather. During single-digit temperatures last year, more than 500 water meters froze. Maintaining the flow with a slow drip, say County engineers, will usually keep water in the pipes from freezing, and save homeowners considerable grief.
Last February Baltimore City (which maintains and repairs the metropolitan water system) was swamped with requests to thaw frozen meters. With the County's help, water service was quickly restored. But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Power Outage Precautions
Power outages can go side-by-side with winter storms. Lights go out and some lose heat. When this happens some of us turn to generators to keep warm and informed.
Generators produce carbon monoxide, CO, a deadly gas. Keep your generator at least 15 feet from the house or building. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding use and review the Fire Department’s safety tips for portable generators.
For those who have gas stoves and ovens, never use an oven to heat your home!
Ice Can be Dicey
Cold weather along with snow and ice can be dangerous. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to problems in the winter.
Beware of “black ice” when you leave your home or work. What appears to be a wet surface can be very slick ice. Be cautious and take your time walking on this winter treat. This warning applies to driving too! Many accidents occur when black ice forms.
Ice melting products should be kept near the door along with your shovel. And beware of steps and handrails; they can be treacherous if not wiped down and salted.
Don’t Overdo with the Shoveling
Anyone who has heart disease or chronic lung disease should not shovel snow or scrap ice. Shoveling is hard on the heart muscles and can cause a cardiac event. Ask a friend, neighbor or relative, or hire someone to clear the sidewalk and driveway.
Stay Warm and Dry
When venturing out in the cold, wear a hat or scarf, warm gloves or mittens, and warm, dry socks inside your boots. Wear a heavy coat, jacket or dress in layers. If the wind is blowing then wear a scarf across your face. Wind burn is hard on the skin just like sun burn. Wear sunscreen in the winter.
And last but not least, remember your pets. They feel the cold as much as you do and rely on you to keep them safe and warm.
Public Safety Office of Media and Communications