WICHITA, Kan. – June 26, 2019 – As Kansans join millions of other Americans, gathering to celebrate our nation’s independence, AAA Kansas and AAA Insurance warn that some inherent dangers of summer celebrations can lead to property damage, injury of party-goers and significant liability for homeowners and hosts.
“Fireworks and other Independence Day celebration activities can be dangerous, causing property damage and personal injury, which can lead to significant insurance liability and costs for property owners,” said Gary Tomes, Regional Insurance Manager with AAA Kansas. “But with preparation and safe practices, Fourth of July fireworks, cookouts, swimming and parties can be accident- and damage-free, and as a result, much more fun for everyone.”
FIREWORKS DANGER, IMPACT AND SAFETY
Many Kansans enjoy celebrating the Fourth with their own fireworks displays, but these products, while legal in many places, are extremely dangerous and cause plenty of damage and injuries every year.
- More fires are reported in the United States on the Fourth of July than on any other day, and fireworks account for more than half of those blazes, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
- Fireworks cause an estimated 18,500 reported fires annually in the United States
- Fireworks result in an estimated $43 million in direct property damage in America each year
- In 2017, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treat an estimated 12,900 people for fireworks related injuries
- 54 percent of those injuries were to the extremities
- 36 percent of those injuries were to the head
- Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for more than one-third (36 percent) of the estimated 2017 injuries.
AAA Kansas and AAA Insurance want to help the public celebrate safely, and the following tips from State of Kansas Fire Marshal provide guidelines for the safe use of fireworks:
- Always purchase high quality fireworks from reliable and legitimate sources
- Always read and follow label directions
- Have an adult supervise all fireworks activities
- Always ignite fireworks outdoors
- Have water nearby
- Never experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks
- Light only one firework at a time
- Never re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks
- Never give fireworks to small children
- Store fireworks in a cool, dry place
- Dispose of fireworks properly
- Never throw fireworks at another person
- Never carry fireworks in your pocket
- Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers
In addition, bottle rockets and M80s are dangerous and illegal in the state of Kansas. The use or sale of these banned fireworks is considered a crime under Kansas law.
BARBECUE GRILLING SAFETY
According to the National Fire Protection Association, the peak months for grilling fires are July, followed by June, May, and August, with 10,200 fires caused by grills, hibachis and other barbecues each year. These fires account for an annual average of 10 deaths, 160 reported injuries and $123 million in direct property damage in the United States.
“Grilling season is a great time to enjoy friends, family, food and the outdoors, but accidents can happen,” said AAA Insurance’s Tomes. “Before you barbecue, take a few minutes to review grilling safety tips and to ensure your equipment is working properly and doesn’t put your friends and family or property at risk.”
Safe grilling tips
- For propane grills, check the gas tank for leaks before use in the months ahead.
- Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
- Place the grill well away from the home, deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
- Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.
- Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grilling area.
- If you use starter fluid when charcoal grilling, only use charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire. When you a finished grilling, let the coals cool completely before disposing in a metal container.
- Never leave your grill unattended when in use.
Following the tips above may help prevent a grill fire spreading to your home, but if a fire does occur, a standard homeowners policy typically covers the following:
- Damage to the primary residence
- Damage to personal possessions, such as tables or lawn chairs
- Damage to insured structures on your property, such as sheds or gazebos
- Injuries to a guest, under the liability portion of the policy
SIMPLE STEPS TO SWIMMING POOL SAFETY
More than 3,500 people drown each year in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drowning is also one of the leading causes of unintentional death in children between the ages of 1 and 9. Many of these fatalities occur even with supervision.
“When warmer weather arrives, it’s great to beat the heat in a pool. But pool owners and their family and friends should be aware of basic pool safety tips to make sure swimming is safe and fun for everyone,” said Tomes of AAA Kansas. “Additionally, be sure to let your insurance agent know if you have a pool to make sure you have the right coverage.”
Have proper pool equipment
- Use a safety cover when your pool is not in use. Pool covers should tightly cover the entire pool so children or pets cannot slip underneath.
- Surround your pool with a fence or other barrier. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends securing your pool with a 4-foot high fence or barrier with a self-closing, self-latching gate.
- Keep your pool clean and clear, and keep children away from pool filters and other mechanical devices. The suction from these devices can injure a swimmer and even hold someone under water.
- Keep lifesaving equipment nearby. Life rings, floats or a reaching pole should be easily accessible.
Learn and teach water safety skills
- Keep children under supervision at all times. Have inexperienced swimmers swim with an adult in the pool and wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved vest.
- Limit alcohol use. The CDC reports that alcohol is involved in 70 percent of all teen and adult deaths associated with water recreation. Alcohol negatively impacts balance, coordination and judgment. These effects are heightened by sun exposure and heat.
- Regularly check the pool area for any potential accident hazards. Glass bottles, toys and electric devices, such as radios and fans, can pose tripping or electrical hazards.
- Don’t leave toys or floats in the pool when it’s not in use. Kids may fall into the pool trying to reach them.
- Take CPR and first aid training or refresh your training if it has been awhile. Those trainings save lives every year.
PROTECT YOUR GUESTS AND YOURSELF – HOST SAFER PARTIES
AAA Insurance urges homeowners and renters to keep these tips in mind when planning your event:
- Limit party invitations to guests that you know.
- Encourage your guests to have designated drivers.
- Provide plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages for guests.
- Stop serving alcohol well before the end of the party.
- Do not serve alcohol to guests who are visibly intoxicated and never serve alcohol to minors.
- Consider hiring a professional bartender.
- If guests are intoxicated or too tired to drive home, arrange a ride with a sober guest, call alternative transportation, or arrange for overnight accommodations.
- Limit your own alcohol intake so you are better able to judge your guests’ sobriety.
Understand your coverage
Your homeowners or renters insurance policy may not cover injuries or property damage caused by an intoxicated guest. Familiarize yourself with social host liability laws in your state before hosting an event where alcohol will be served.
To find out more about what your policy covers and does not cover or for more information about auto and home insurance, call your AAA insurance agent or insurance customer service, or visit your local branch.