Fireworks and Grilling Safety

Posted at 2:50 p.m.

Happy 4th of July! We hope you have a fun holiday weekend — as well as a safe one.

Many holidays are associated with certain types of celebrations or food. And July 4th is no exception. Fireworks and cookouts are often among the first things to come to mind, in addition to what Independence Day means to our country as we celebrate our nation’s 239th anniversary.

As you enjoy your celebrations, keep the following safety types in mind.

Fireworks Safety

Many fireworks are not available in Northern Virginia because they are illegal. Firecrackers, cherry bombs and skyrockets are just a few examples of fireworks which may be purchased in other areas, but are illegal here. Since even the possession of unapproved fireworks is prohibited in Fairfax County, such fireworks will be confiscated and the person possessing them can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. This carries a maximum penalty of a $2,500 fine and/or one-year in jail.

As a reminder from our fire department, any firework, which explodes, emits a flame or sparks higher than 12 feet, or performs as a projectile is prohibited by the Fairfax County Fire Prevention Code. In addition, a permit is required for the sale of all fireworks, and these permits are only valid from June 1 to July 15 of each year.

fireworks safety

If you do use fireworks — or are around fireworks — please follow these safety tips:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees — hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

Of course the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to visit a local fireworks display, such as the one at Lake Fairfax Park in Reston.

Lake Fairfax Park fireworks

Grilling Safety

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service reminds us that we can’t see bacteria on our burgers, hotdogs and other meats and poultry; checking the internal temperature is the best way to ensure protection. They recommend that you practice food safety by “Grilling Like A Pro” using a food thermometer. What does it mean to grill like a PRO?

  • P—Place the Thermometer: Think your food is ready? Make sure by checking the internal temperature. Find the thickest part of the meat (usually about 1.5 to 2 inches deep), and insert the thermometer. If you’re cooking a thinner piece of meat, like chicken breasts or hamburger patties, insert the thermometer from the side. Make sure that the probe reaches the center of the meat.
  • R—Read the Temperature: Wait about 10 to 20 seconds for an accurate temperature reading. Use the following safe internal temperature guidelines for your meat and poultry.
    • Beef, Pork, Lamb, & Veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145 °F with a 3-minute rest time.
    • Ground meats: 160 °F.
    • Whole poultry, poultry breasts, & ground poultry: 165 °F.
  • O—Off the Grill: Once the meat and poultry reach their safe minimum internal temperatures, take the food off the grill and place it on a clean platter. Don’t put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry. Also remember to clean your food thermometer probe with hot, soapy water or disposable wipes.

Grill Like a PRO

The Fairfax County Health Department also offers six grilling tips, including keeping cold food cold, keeping hot food hot, thawing meat and poultry, marinating food in the refrigerator, and more.

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2 responses to “Fireworks and Grilling Safety”

  1. Uldis Adamsons says :

    Because the 5:45 p.m. phone call sounded like a telemarketing call (‘this is Fairfax alerts. press 1 to hear this alert..’) I didn’t press 1.. When I later heard a helicopter go overhead, I thought perhaps the call had actually been ‘Fairfax County,’ not ‘Fairfax alerts,’ so checked this web site. Nothing on this web site indicates an emergency in Fairfax County. So if the call was real, and the intent was to notify me of an emergency, it failed.

    • Fairfax County Emergency Information says :

      Thanks for your comment. The call you received did come from Fairfax County via our emergency alert system that is called “Fairfax Alerts.” On occasion, Fairfax County agencies such as the Fairfax County Police Department in this case, ask for assistance through Fairfax Alerts in locating a missing person who is in danger. The “robo type” call comes from the system and takes typed text and converts it to a voice message delivered to our residents’ home numbers. We are always looking to improve the system and your comments are greatly appreciated. And we’re happy to announce that this missing person was found, thanks in part to the emergency alert that was sent to residents in the area.