Swedish Medical Center: 4th of July Safety Tips
Hot dogs and hamburgers may be on the grill for Independence Day, but Dr. Philip Fidler hopes an extra side of caution is on the menu too.
“I know when people gather for cookouts and other events it is easy to get caught up in the conversation and fun,” said Dr. Fidler, the Medical Director of Burn & Reconstructive Centers of Colorado at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, CO. “However, it only takes a second of carelessness or distraction for something bad to happen.”
Safety starts before the grill is even lit, Dr. Fidler said. Keep the grill at least 10 feet away from buildings or anything else that could catch fire, and never, ever use gasoline to fuel the fire. “Once the grill is hot, you should establish a safe zone around it,” Dr. Fidler said. “No one, except the designated chef, should be allowed in that zone.”
Other grilling tips include:
- Use utensils with long handles to stay clear of the fire
- Dispose of hot coals properly by dousing with water and stirring the ashes.
- Keep lighter fluid container away from grill.
- Utility/Barbeque lighters are not safe for children and should not be left outdoors where the elements may weaken or damage the plastic.
- Always follow manufacturers’ instructions when operating a grill.
- Replace nicked or scratched connectors.
- Always turn on utility light before you turn on gas or propane.
- Never use a match to check for leaks.
- Keep gas hoses as far away from grease and hot surfaces as possible.
- After grilling, make sure all gas lines are shut off.
Another annual summer risk is sunburns. To avoid getting a potentially severe sunburn, Dr. Fidler recommends using sunscreen with at least a SPF of 35, and reapplying the sunscreen every 30 minutes or anytime you have been in the water – just in case the sunscreen gets washed off. “Remember, children and older folks have thinner skin than adults, and that makes them more susceptible to burns,” Dr. Fidler said.
July 4th is also a traditional day for fireworks. While fireworks are closely controlled under Colorado law, they still present a danger is misused or fired carelessly. “If you want to see fireworks, go to a public show,” Dr. Fidler said. “Things that burn and explode are always best left in the hands of experts.”
However, if you do decide to set off your own fireworks, there are a few safety precautions to keep in mind:
- Check local laws to see if fireworks are allowed in your community
- Create a “blast zone” that is away from structures, people, dry grass and other flammable items
- Designate someone as the safety person, someone else as the shooter and someone else as the cleanup crew
- Ensure a fire extinguisher, hose or bucket or water is nearby
- Make sure the “shooter” is not wearing loose clothing that could ignite, and follows all directions on the fireworks label
- If the device does not have a warning and/or instructions label, do not fire it
- Never use fireworks of any kind indoors
- Light fireworks one at a time
- Never throw fireworks. A malfunctioning fuse could cause the item to go off in your hand.
- Never light fireworks held in someone’s hand.
- Never stand over an item that does not fire
- Remember that fireworks, especially sparklers and smaller items that stay on the ground, are still very hot, and therefore dangerous, after they have been used.
About Dr. Fidler:
In 2015, Dr. Philip Fidler joined the staff of Burn & Reconstructive Centers of Colorado to be the Medical Director of the burn facility at Swedish Medical Center near Denver, CO, and fulfill the need for a combined adult and pediatric burn center in the mountain and plains regions of the US. It’s a region already close to the surgeon’s heart. As Past President of the North American Burn Society, Dr. Fidler encouraged burn survivors and providers to work with adaptive sports counselors to improve their psychosocial well-being and better enjoy the outdoors. “The experience in Colorado has been so rewarding,” he said. “It’s given me a new perspective on returning our patients to their leisure life. The mountains bring a whole new spirit to leisure. It’s been both challenging and awe-inspiring!” Dr. Fidler has been a member of the Government Affairs committee of the American Burn Association and is currently on the Rehabilitation and Reintegration Committee and has served as a reviewer for the Journal of Burn Care and Research for years. In 2016, Dr. Fidler was been named a Gusi Peace Prize Laureate for excellence in medicine and burn patient advocacy, and honored at a ceremony the Philippines. Dr. Fidler enjoys time with his wife, three children and dog, in Greenwood Village, CO.