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Barbecues, fireworks and other home fire concerns

You know that summer is truly here when the 4th of July is right around the corner. That’s right, next Wednesday we will be celebrating our country’s independence!

We thought this would be a good time to review some safety concerns – for you and your home – during the summer months.

Recently we sat down with Aberdeen Fire Chief Tom Hubbard to talk about fire prevention. Last week we gave you some tips about electrical issues that can present fire concerns.

Today our focus will be on summer hazards, as well as general prevention.


In the Aberdeen City limits, sales of fireworks are allowed beginning July 1. However it is only lawful to ignite fireworks in Aberdeen from 9 a.m. to midnight on July 4. And, that is only the lawful, common fireworks sold in the stands, said Chief Hubbard.

The legal hours for setting off fireworks vary in each jurisdiction, so make sure to know what they are where you live.

What doesn’t vary is the potential risk for fireworks to cause damage to you and ignite fire on your property.

“It’s a particularly dry summer so far, so people will need to be extra careful. There already was a wildland fire from an abandoned campfire at Wynoochee Lake,” Chief Hubbard said.

Follow all the safety precautions when you are around fireworks, including having a bucket of water or hose handy and properly cleaning up the mess as you go – think metal trash bucket. Even if you are not setting off fireworks, if someone near your home is setting off aerial type devices, it’s not a bad idea to water down your roof as a precaution, he said.

Follow up the next morning with a perimeter check of your property to make sure that nothing errant landed in a risky place such as a shed or wood pile that could become a smoldering concern.


There’s nothing like hamburgers, salmon, chicken or steak hot off the grill! Summer is a great time to use your barbecue – and to review how to safely do so.

With safe barbecuing, it’s mostly about location, location, location!

Of course, never use your barbecue inside your house! This is a safety issue that tends to come up more often in the winter, but we mention it now just because of its devastating effects. Using a barbecue inside could be a fire issue, but is always a problem because of deadly carbon monoxide that is produced when burning charcoal and other fossil fuels.

Also, even if rain threatens to ruin your barbecue, never move the barbecue inside the garage – even with the door open. It’s a fire risk as well as a potential carbon monoxide risk there as well.

Even as you grill outside, make sure the grill isn’t too close to your house or other any structure that could catch fire.


This is the time of year that we at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor keep encouraging all sorts of home maintenance and repair projects and is the time that most folks have more time, energy and light to tackle those projects.

Add tidying up your garage to the list! Garage fires tend to spread farther and cause more injuries and dollar loss than fires that start in all other areas of the home, according to FEMA.

Something we talked about in last week’s column – electrical malfunction – is the leading cause of garage fires. So, be alert to any smoky smells, tricky outlets or frayed wires – and address them immediately.

Here are some home safety tips from FEMA to avoid those fires:

· Store oil, gasoline, paints and varnishes in a shed away from your home.

· Keep items that can burn on shelves away from appliances.

· Plug only one charging appliance into an outlet.

· Do not use an extension cord when charging an appliance.

“Another place of concern in the garage is for people who are using oil based paints or who are refinishing furniture with things like linseed oils and other natural oils.” Chief Hubbard said. “Wadded up rags that have some of the oil on them will start to decompose and as the oils break down, they can spontaneously combust.


Before you skip over this section about smoke alarms, stop!

Did you know that even if you have been routinely putting new batteries in your smoke alarms they might not work when you need them?

That’s because most smoke alarm units need to be replaced every 10 years. Even if the new battery is in an old alarm, the sensors, having been exposed to years of dust, pet hair and steam, often no longer work. When was the last time you purchased new smoke alarms?

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is executive director. This is a nonprofit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing for all residents of Grays Harbor County. For questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or buying, call 360-533-7828 or visit 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen. Our office is fully ADA-compliant.

Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner or one of our contractors? We have rehab loan funds at tailored rates! Call us at 533-7828, write us or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen. Our office is ADA compliant, complete with a designated disabled parking spot, ramp and ADA compliant restroom.

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