Safety Tips for 4th of July Fireworks and BBQS

The Fourth of July is a day commonly spent with family and friends celebrating our nation’s independence. For many Americans, this national holiday is not complete without two key elements: barbecues and fireworks! While these two traditions are heavily ingrained in the American culture, their origins may be unknown to many. According to Reader’s Digest, fireworks have been tied to Independence Day since the very first official independence celebration in Philadelphia. On July 4th, 1777, 13 cannons were set off, representing each of the 13 states of the union, and fireworks glistened in the sky.

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The tradition of the backyard BBQ does not span as long, as barbecuing only became prominent in the early 1800’s. Virginian colonists grilled animals over a fire, continuing the practice taken from the West Indies, but it was political leaders who tied grilling to the 4th of July. They held rallies to commemorate the holiday, which attracted a large number of individuals, due to the inclusion of, “massive barbecues featuring whole pigs and oxen.”

Today, nothing says red, white, and blue quite like a fireworks show and hot dogs on the grill. However, a family-friendly backyard BBQ can quickly go from fun to fatal when attention is taken away from the grill. Not only can the open flames  harm to kids who get too close, but a fire could erupt, due to leaking propane, and quickly spread. The explosion could cause burns, as well as major property damage. Grill fires sound like a joke, but they are more common than people think.. According to TODAY, there are 7,000 gas grill fires in the US every year! Fireworks also pose a threat if they are not handled with care or if they are misused and can lead to serious firework accident injuries. Children and adults alike have been known to burn themselves trying to light a firework, or have a firework explode in their faces if they don’t back away in time, after lighting one. Since, 4th of July festivities can be just as dangerous as they are fun, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has suggests the  ten following safety tips so people can make sure their holiday festivities don’t involve a trip to the emergency room.

4th of July Firework and BBQ Safety Tips

  1. Be sure fireworks are legal in your area before using or buying them.
  2. Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities and never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks. Sparklers alone account for one quarter of emergency room fireworks injuries.
  3. If you set off fireworks, keep a bucket of water handy in case of malfunction or fire.
  4. If fireworks malfunction, don’t relight them! Douse and soak them with water then throw them away.
  5. Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially one that is glass or metal.
  6. Use your grill well away from your home and deck railings, and out from under branches or overhangs.
  7. Open your gas grill before lighting.
  8. Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below your gas or propane grill so it cannot be ignited.
  9. Declare a three-foot "kid and pet-free zone" around the grill to keep them safe.
  10. Avoid loose clothing that can catch fire when cooking on the grill.
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In 2016 alone, US hospitals treated approximately 11,100 individuals with firework-related injuries, as reported by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Of those injured, 69% were treated for burns, the most common injury to the body excluding the eye. If the eyes were impacted by fireworks, the damage consisted of, “contusions, lacerations, and foreign bodies in the eyes.” Adults 20 to 24 had the highest rate of firework-related injuries treated in a hospital, followed by children under the age of 5. These statistics are bleak, but they can serve as a powerful reminder that firework accidents should never be underestimated. While it may be a safer option is to leave the fireworks to the professionals and attend a local show instead, many Americans will celebrate this Independence Day in their backyards. For a safe and festive 4th of July, use caution when setting off fireworks, and you won’t have to share your brisket with any firemen who come to the rescue!


Firework shows are spectacular, and an exciting part of Fourth of July celebrations. Even if they are handled by professionals, viewers, and their vehicles must be located far enough away from the fallout zone to avoid firework-related injuries. Designated parking and viewing areas, when available, may provide a safe distance from flying debris. But with the heavy flow of traffic, they may be fully occupied. If a safe viewing area is not an option, try to find a spot as far from where the show will take place as possible, and be on alert of  other drivers also trying to find a place to park. If you or someone you know has been injured due to another person’s negligence, call The Michigan Law Firm, PC for a free consultation today at 844.4MI.FIRM. Our Michigan accident attorneys are ready to help!

Sterling Heights, Buff Whelan Chevrolet Dealership Fire

Buff Whelan Chevrolet in Sterling Heights, Michigan decided to reopen their doors three days ago, on July 19, 2017, despite the fact that one of their service buildings caught fire the night before. The fire spread, burning up the body shop and more than 20 vehicles. The Van Dyke Ave. car dealership has been a large part of the community for at least 20 years and many of their customers and neighbors were in shock to see the building in flames. The blaze was so massive that fire and police departments from surrounding communities worked together to close down 18 Mile Road and reroute drivers and onlookers away from the area. People as far as 5 miles away claimed to have seen the smoke caused by the fire. 

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How The Buff Whelan Fire Started

The cause of the fire is still under investigation but it is believed that the cleaning crew accidentally started the fire around 7:30 PM on July 18, after a floor buffer came in contact with some flammable floor cleaning solution. Some sources have even speculated that the floor chemical solution spread to wiring, causing an electrical fire. Sterling Heights Fire Chief Chris Martin says from there, the fire spread quickly and set the vehicles and body shop on fire. This unfortunate incident is now being ranked as the largest fire in Sterling Heights history.

Tom Bechtel, the Sales Manager at Buff Whelan said he saw the smoke from his house but, didn’t realize the smoke was coming from his workplace. “The flames were unbelievable and the smoke — I can’t believe a service facility would burn like that...Unbelievable.” said Bechtel.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Whelan have expressed their gratitude to the fire departments that helped save their business and to the public for their support and concern and issued a statement saying that it is, “business as usual” and that they still have the inventory and accommodations to service their clients through their website and in person, while repairs are being made. 

A Few Fire Safety Tips

Structure and mercantile property fires, like the one at Buff Whelan Chevrolet, account for 41% of civilian deaths and 31% of civilian injuries. These fires are more common than people realize and many companies don't specifically train employees on what to do in case of fire, other than to call 911. Or even if companies do train their employees on fire safety, many people tend to fall asleep during the lecture or are unable to recall the long ago training when it comes to an actual fire or fire drill. For those people, here are a few fire safety tips to brush up on, supplied by BullEx, an expert fire safety company.

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  • Declutter - Paper, candy wrappers, spare clothing, and even those old and forgotten Halloween decorations left in the bottom drawer can be potential fuel for a fire to spread. Keeping work spaces clean can help keep small flames from becoming massive. 
  • Update Technology - Make sure any machinery, even cleaning machinery, is up to date in repairs. No need for loose wiring or a motor going haywire and causing a fire, as is suspected in the Buff Whelan Chevrolet fire. 
  • Read Safety Labels - Always be careful when mixing, using, and storing chemicals. Refer to the Material Safety Data Sheet that is oftentimes located on the the back label or lower right corner of the item to determine its flammability. 
  • Electrical Maintenance - Any faulty or electrical hazards should immediately be reported. BullEx warns that any electrical maintenance or repair should only be handled by a licensed professional. 
  • Don't Smoke! - Those “Do Not Smoke” signs are placed there for a reason! Those out on a smoke break should only use smoking designated areas, not because people are picking on smokers, but for safety reasons such as potential fire hazards nearby or setting off fire alarms and sprinklers. 
  • Security - No matter how big or small the workplace is, suspicious items, people, and areas should be reported to prevent potential arsonists from setting a life threatening fire. 
  • Fire Extinguishers - Businesses should supply employees or a designated employee(s) with instructions on how to work a fire extinguisher, just in case of a fire. Employees should also know where all emergency fire exits are located in their workplace and should always keep possible escape routes clear. These fire safety measures could be essential to saving lives and avoiding fire injuries.

Of course, fires can occur for a many number of reasons. By following these fire safety tips however, employees may be able to avoid some fires caused by human error. Thankfully, aside from the 20 or so cars, no humans were injured in the Buff Whelan Chevrolet fire. It does warm the heart however, to see how the Sterling Heights and other Metro Detroit communities came to the aid of a local business during such a crisis.


Fires don't just happen in buildings. Cars fires also occur when automobiles are involved in motor vehicle accidents. If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our highly experienced staff is always available to speak to victims of car accidents. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free and fair legal consultation.