Summer safety tips offered

August 04, 1998

One unguarded moment, one slip of memory and the summer of 1998 could go from fun to tragic, officials say.

Maryland Fire Marshal Rocco Gabriele suggests that when grilling outdoors, the charcoal-fired barbecue grill should be kept a safe distance from anything that can burn. He suggests:

- Recent dry conditions make it imperative that the grill not be near dry grass or other vegetation that could catch fire.

- The cook should wear an apron and an oven mitt that fits above the forearm.

- Use only approved starter fluids, never gasoline. Remember only to use the fluids before starting the fire, not after, as a flash fire can occur.


- When finished, put water on coals and store away from the house until they can be removed in a proper container.

- For gas grills, always store the gas cylinder outside, away from structures and always keep the valves turned off when not in use.

- Check for leaks with soap-and-water mixture. If it bubbles, there's a leak.

- Store gasoline outside the home, preferably in a locked detached shed. Store only enough for gas-powered equipment.

- Never use gasoline as stain remover, cleaner or for starting fires. Use only an approved container.

- Avoid parking off-street in tall grass or brush because catalytic converters are extremely hot and can start fires.

- When using portable fans and window air conditioners, avoid using extension cords.

- Test your smoke alarms at home.

Maryland State Police Superintendent David Mitchell said he hopes motorists will remember to wear seat belts.

In July, nine people died in a six-day period and none was wearing a seat belt, Mitchell said. He noted:

- Maryland law requires that children younger than 4, regardless of weight, and those who weigh 40 pounds or less, regardless of age, be in a child safety seat.

- Passengers under 16 must be secured no matter where they sit.

- Drivers and front-seat passengers must be belted.

Troopers are stopping vehicles for seat belt and child safety seat violations and levying fines, police said.

- Before travelers hit the road, the Maryland Community Crime Prevention Institute suggests they make sure their homes look lived in, not empty.

- Leave a key and instructions with a trusted neighbor, advise of departure and return dates.

- Lock all windows and doors, double-checking basement and garage doors.

- Consider getting call forwarding for the phone.

- Cancel newspaper and mail delivery for the time you will be gone.

While on the road:

- Carry little cash and don't "advertise" that you are a tourist.

- When staying overnight, leave no valuables in car.

- Carry a flashlight, fire extinguisher, first aid kit and tools.

In a hotel room:

- Look before opening the door.

- Leave the television on while gone so the room sounds occupied.

- Take cash, keys and credit cards with you or put them in the hotel safe.

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