Summer is fast approaching and with it comes long hot days and chilled out summer evenings. People will no doubt already be planning how they will spend the summer months, either at home or away, but many will neglect to pay attention to the sensible preparations until something crops up last minute. Now, whilst it is perfectly understandable that you get easily distracted when making summer plans, it is important to keep yourself in check. As fun as days at the beach and barbecue parties are, they come with an element of a responsibility to keep both yourself and others safe. Being safe and sensible doesn't mean wearing a Hazmat suit whilst you flip burgers on the grill, it just means you need to pay attention to what you're doing and be aware of the potential dangers associated with your favourite fun summer activities.
In the same way that swimming in the ocean or even in a deep swimming pool carries an element of risk; drowning in deep water or having a run-in with dangerous marine creatures like jellyfish and sea urchins for example, the most popular of summer activities can pose a threat. Even something as idyllic as cycling in a country lane can end in a fall, so it stands to reason that there are more than enough risks out there during the summer months. One in particular is fire. Even on the hottest day in the UK, you may not think of fire as a real summer threat but you would be surprised how much more opportunity fire has in summer than at other times of the year.
Below is a list of the three main fire threats to watch out for this summer, so read on and remember to stay aware.
Barbecues are probably the UK's favourite cooking method May through August but as tasty as chargrilled dinners are, they also pose the risk of fire. It may seem like the activity and flames are well contained within the barbecue tray but a lack of concentration, a spillage or splashes of animal fat could result in a dangerous fire. Make sure you follow the manufacturer's instructions, pay close attention to what you are doing and keep dangerous substances far away from the barbecue. For more tips on barbecue safety, see the Fire Service Guide.
As much as people want to make the most of the outdoors in the summer, not everyone is the outdoors type in the traditional sense of the word. That said, camping is a popular pastime in the summer months, suitable for families, individuals and groups of all ages. For those who like to get back to camping's rustic roots, campfires are a key part of the experience; they are a source of heat, light, somewhere to cook your dinner and a focal point when you all share stories. However, it is also an open flame surrounded by dry, highly combustible organic material. That means you should never leave your campfire unattended, take the proper safety precautions when building, using and extinguishing it and ensure you have the right materials to hand in the event of an emergency (e.g. water in a bucket or a fire blanket). Thankfully, the UK doesn't suffer forest fires on the same scale as the United States or Australia, but that doesn't mean our campfires don't pose the same risks. For campfire safety guidance, read the Chubb Campfire Safety Guidelines.
Even when we have a hot dry summer, the UK is still prone to storms. In fact, the hotter and drier it is, the more likely we are to experience heavy thunderstorms and with thunderstorms comes lightning. Now, when we are safely tucked up at home, lightning seems like nothing more than a pretty (loud) light show for us to watch out the window, and that is all well and good until lightning strikes a tree, a home or a business property. Then lightning becomes a source of fire - the worst kind in fact, as an unpredictable source of fire. If you are in or near a building when it is hit with lightning, a summer storm to clear the air can quickly become your worst nightmare. Though rare, such lightning strikes and subsequent fires do occur (read here for 2014's first incident) and whilst you cannot control the weather, it is wise to be aware of the danger that lightning and thunderstorms pose.
Of course, no matter how careful you are, sometimes fires and other tragic accidents occur out of your control. If this is the case, there are ways you can pick yourself up and put normal life back together again with the help of authorities, friends, insurance companies and fire and flood restoration companies. That said, prevention is always better than cure. So this summer, make sure you pay attention to your surroundings and to what you're doing, whether you are at home or away. The best way to have fun is to expect the unexpected, prepare for it and be able to continue having fun whatever hiccups crop up.