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Fireworks Safety Tips and Why America Celebrates July with Explosions

Posted by Joshua Fleishman on Thu, Jul 03, 2014 @ 01:00 PM

Independence Day (AKA ‘Fourth of July’) has been celebrated with fireworks since 1776, when the United States declared its independence from Great Britain (now known as the United Kingdom).

fireworks safety, safety training, summer safety, burn safetyFireworks themselves are dated back to 7th century China, where they were invented and used in many festivities. Fast forward to mid-17th century; Europe was blown away by Chinese fireworks and the popularity would rise and they were used for celebration of many important events. Finally in the late 18th century, the early European settlers brought this love of fireworks to this country and used them as rally devices, political attractions, and of course to celebrate important events.

In times past, pyrotechnicians were highly respected individuals and the art of making fireworks was a complex science with its own knowledge and techniques. Today, we have fireworks displays for festivals and celebrations, and even competitions, around the world. Did you know that the largest consumer of fireworks in the United States is the Walt Disney Corporation?

Unfortunately somewhere down the line fireworks got arguably too popular and now we have many individual consumers purchasing and igniting their own. This isn’t in itself bad, but two things are happening: people are not taking proper safety precautions and the injuries are piling up yearly, and other people are making their own. Remember when I said pyrotechnics were an art and a science? Making your own fireworks is a recipe for disaster unless you are a professional, and the numbers below will show it. Despite the dangers of fireworks, few people seem to truly understand the associated risks including devastating burns, other injuries, fires, and even death.

Failure to follow these fireworks safety tips can lead to serious burns, injuries, or even worse! In 2012, an estimated 9,200 people were treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries. 36% of this number was under the age of 15. In fact, children between the ages of 10 and 14 are at three times the risk of fireworks-related injuries than the general population.

Quick Facts/Statistics about Fireworks

  • In 2011, fireworks caused about $32 million in direct property damage.fireworks safety, safety training, summer safety, burn safety
  • In 2012, more than 36% of fireworks-related injuries in Indiana were to children under 18 years old.
  • Also in 2012, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,700 people for fireworks-related injuries.
    • 55% were to the arms/legs combined and 31% were to the head.
  • On Independence Day in a typical year, far more U.S. fires are reported than on any other day, and fireworks account for 2 out of 5 of those fires, more than any other cause of fires.
  • 65% of the fireworks injuries in 2013 occurred during the month surrounding July 4th.
  • Illegal and homemade fireworks were involved in all 8 fireworks-related deaths reported in 2013.
  • Top 2 fireworks types from injuries were Sparklers (31%) and Firecrackers (11%).
    • Sparklers burn at extremely hot temperatures, from 1200 to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit.


And finally, I leave you with the 10 tips to keep you safe this Independence Day.

  1. Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
  2. Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper, which is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers. And remember, homemade fireworks are also dangerous and illegal!
  3. Never ignite fireworks indoors. Fireworks should only be lit on a smooth, flat surface; and should always be away from buildings, dry vegetation, and flammable materials.
  4. Never ignite fireworks in a metal or glass container.
  5. fireworks safety, safety training, summer safety, burn safetyKeep any type of ladder or pole (used to set up or light fireworks) at least 10 feet from any power lines.
  6. Never point or throw fireworks at a person, animal, or building.
  7. Fireworks should not be used by persons under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  8. Light fireworks one at a time, then back away quickly. Never place any part of your body directly over the fireworks themselves when lighting the fuse and never attempt to relight a “dud.”
  9. Have a fire extinguisher, water hose, or water-filled bucket nearby. Fireworks stay hot for a bit after they’ve burned out. Douse and dispose!
  10. Never allow young children to use fireworks. This includes sparklers, as they burn at temperatures hot enough to melt some metals. For older children, always have adult supervision when they are using or around fireworks. (Glowsticks make a great alternative to fireworks for young children).

Remember to stay safe this holiday and practice situational awareness. Accidents are preventable, if we practice good safety culture. 

And remember, July is also National UV Safety Month! Head over to our previous July blog article covering safety tips to beat the heat. Click here to read 5+ Tips to Survive UV Safety Month this July.

Safety Training Services is here for ALL your safety needs! Whether its OSHA compliant safety training, first aid kits & fire extinguisher, equipment & supplied air rentals, field (rescue) work, or consulting, STS can help you and your company! Click here for 'Real Experience. Real Training. Real Results.'

Tags: burn safety, osha training, summer safety, fireworks safety, safety training

5+ Tips to Survive UV Safety Month this July

Posted by Joshua Fleishman on Wed, Jul 02, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

July is UV Safety Month.

This month, we take a look at educating ourselves and other individuals on how to protectuv safety, uv safety month, july safety
ourselves from overexposure to the sun. The sun emits radiation in the form of ultraviolet (UV) light. This is classified into 3 types based on wavelength: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVC, the shortest length, never reaches us on the ground because our protective ozone layer blocks all UVC light. But UVA and UVB pass right through. This is potentially dangerous as UVA light is what causes wrinkling or leathering of the skin and UVB causes sun burns. They both can cause skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, with millions of new cases diagnosed each year. The main cause of skin cancer is exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) ray's. These UV rays can weaken the immune system, increase sun spots and wrinkles, cause blotchy skin, and lead to premature aging.


The two most common types of skin cancer,

  1. Basal cell

  2. Squamous cell carcinomas

are highly curable!

Melanoma, the 3rd most common type of skin cancer, is more dangerous. About 65-90% of melanomas are caused by exposure to UV light. Skin cancer affects people of all ages, including older adults.

Although anyone get skin cancer, those with fair skin, blond or red hair, and blue or green eyes are at the greatest risk. But everyone else should still take precautions, as everyone is at an equal risk for eye damage due to overexposure to the sun's UV rays. 

Today’s older Americans face increased sun-related health problems because when they were growing up, little was known or communicated about protection from UV rays. The good news, however, is skin cancer can be prevented! Here are some safety tips to protect your skin while being outdoors this summer:

  • Choose sunglasses based on 100% UV protection of both UVA and UVBuv safety, uv safety month, july safety rays. The color and how expense they were mean nothing compared to the REAL reason we wear sunglasses.
    • Go for the wrap arounds. That means they wrap around your temples so that the sun's rays can't enter from the side.
    • You may have contact lenses with UV protection, but don't rely on this; remember your sunglasses.
  • Put on sunscreen 20-30 minutes before going outside. Don't wait until you are outside and already exposed.
    • Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15.
      • Broad spectrum sunscreen protects against overexposure from both UVA and UVB rays.
    • Put on sunscreen before applying makeup, insect repellent, or tanning oils.
    • The longer the amount of time that you plan to be outside, the higher the SPF on your sunscreen should be.
    • Reapply sunscreen as needed, about every 2 hours; even if its water-resistant.
  • Be careful between the hours of 10 am & 4 pm. These are peak sunlight hours where the UV light is most intense.
    • UV light is also more intense at higher altitudes.
    • Intense UV light can be reflected off of water, snow, sand, and cement.
  • In addition to sunglasses, wear a hat. Broad-brimmed hats especially, protect your eyes, ears, face, and neck.
  • Don't forget the children; they too are at risk!
This should go without saying, but...NEVER look directly at the sun. Looking directly at the sun at any time, even during an eclipse, can lead to solar retinopathy, damage to the eye's retina from solar radiation. This exposure to bright sunlight increases the risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, and growths on the eye including cancer.
Don't be fooled by the clouds in the sky, the sun's rays pass right through them. The eyes are at risk to UV rays all year round (not just in summer). Sunlight is not the only culprit though--tanning beds, sun lamps, etc. offer higher doses of UV radiation than sunlight!
uv safety, uv safety month, july safetyUV radiation is not limited to just us humans either. Both plants and other animals are affected by it. For example, a plant's overexposure to the sun could mean affecting its photosynthesis. This can affect the growth of the plant, and therefore can potentially impact the structure of an ecosystem in a negative way. Animals, especially those with little to no hair, can get sunburn just like any of us. This is why pigs (and other similar animals) roll around in the mud, they use it like sunscreen!
American Cancer Society promotes a clever slogan that actually kind of helps you remember the steps for UV radiation protection: "Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap!" This stands for: Slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, slap on a hat, and wrap on your sunglasses.
For tips on how to stay safe while grilling this summer, click here for our article about 'Grilling Safety.' And stay subscribed to the STS Blog for more great safety information and safety tips to get you through the summer. Our Summer of Safety Blogs continue with out next article, covering Fireworks Safety, followed by Eye Injury Prevention!

Tags: summer safety, uv safety, july safety, safety, safety training, uv safety month

Grill Brats, Not Your Body: Summertime Grilling Safety

Posted by Joshua Fleishman on Mon, Jun 03, 2013 @ 10:00 AM

Here we are already in June, and summer is around the corner. June and July are peak months for grilling fires. But before you dust off that spatula and run to the store for some steaks and A1, let’s take a moment to discuss grilling safety and some tips to keep you from ending up like this poor guy.

The Office - Grill Burn, Grill Safety

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends grillers are mindful of safety. Grills, in general, pose an obvious risk for fires and burns. Gas grills pose a slightly higher threat than charcoal grills in that gas grills contribute to a higher number of home fires than charcoal ones.

Charcoal Grill Safety

Running the Numbers

According to an analysis done by the NFPA, in 2006-2010, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 8,600 home fires involving grills, hibachis, or barbecues per year, including an average of 3,600 structure fires and 5,000 outside fires. These 8,600 fires caused an annual average of 10 civilian deaths, 140 reported civilian injuries, and $75 million in direct property damage. Once again, July was the peak month for grill fires, but these incidents occur throughout the year.

Flammable or combustible gas or liquid was the item first ignited in almost half of home outdoor grill fires. In almost half (46%) of the home outdoor fires in which grills were involved, 53% of the outside gas grills, and 26% of gas grill structure fires, the fire started when a flammable or combustible gas or liquid caught fire. 




Gas vs. Solid-Fueled (Information from NFPA “Grill Fact Sheet”)

  • 83% of grills (5 out of every 6) involved in home fires were fueled by gas while 14% used charcoal or other solid fuel.
    • Gas grills were involved in an average of 7,100 home fires per year, including 2,800 structure fires and 4,300 outdoor fires annually.
      • Leak or break was the leading factor contributing to gas grill fires.
    • Charcoal or solid-fueled grills were involved in 1,200 home fires, including 600 structure fires and 500 outside fires.
      • The leading cause of these structure fires was something that could burn being too close to the grill.

More than one-quarter (28%) of the home structure fires involving grills started on a courtyard, terrace, or patio:

  • 28% started on an exterior balcony or open porch.
  • 6% began in the kitchen.
  • 5% started on an exterior wall surface.

Emergency Room Visits Due to Grills

In 2011, 16,600 patients went to emergency rooms because of injuries involving grills. 7,800 (about half) of the injuries were thermal burns.
  •  Children under five accounted for one-quarter (26%) of the thermal grill burns. These were typically contact burns rather than flame burns.
  • Almost one-third of the gas grill injuries were burns incurred while lighting the grill.

Before the Season Starts

Before using a propane grill for the first time each year, make sure to check the gas tank hose for leaks. If no visible cracks or holes are apparent, use the “bubble test.” A propane leak will release bubbles. Do this by applying a light soap and water solution to the hose. If turning off the grill and gas stops the leak, get its serviced before using again. If the leak doesn’t stop, call the fire department.

For a charcoal grill, there are several ways to get ready to use. Using a charcoal chimney starter allows you to start the charcoal using newspaper as fuel. If you use starter fluid, use charcoal starter fluid. Do not add charcoal fluid to the fire! Make sure to keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from any other heat sources.  There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. With charcoal grills, let the coals completely cool when finished grilling. And always dispose of coals in a metal container.

7 Quick Tips for Grill Safety

  1. Propane and charcoal grills should only be used outside.

  2. Children and pets should be kept at least 3 feet away from the grill area.
  3. Grill Safety, Grilling Safety

    Never leave your grill unattended.
  4. Never ignite a gas grill while the lid is closed.
  5. Clean your grill often by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  6. If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least 15 minutes before re-lighting it.
  7. If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.

Make sure to keep grills a good distance away from your home and any deck railings. They should be out and away from under eaves and overhanging branches. Keep fuel away from home and other structures as well. Harmless as it may seem, if fuel positioned too closely to the home and there is fire involving grill equipment, it may become fodder for said fire to ignite the home/structure.

Fire Marshall Bill, Grilling Safety Tips


Remember, fire is an indispensable tool when used to grill outdoors. Kick off your summer fun right, with hot dogs and burgers, not fire and destruction!


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Tags: grill safety tips, outdoor safety tips, summer safety, outdoor grilling safety tips, outdoor safety