The Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) and the Westfield Fire Department remind Hoosiers that lingering hot, dry conditions are increasing the fire risk in Indiana.
“Extremely dry conditions persist across much of the state,” says Indiana State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson. “Much of the grass and vegetation is primed to quickly grow a small spark into a large fire. Hoosiers must continue to exercise great care to prevent devastating fires.”
The Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office is a division of IDHS.
“While rain this weekend definitely helped, the extended high temperatures mean it’s still really dangerous outside,” said John Barrett, spokesperson for the Westfield Fire Department.
84 out of Indiana’s 92 counties remain under burn bans and numerous counties are urging residents to refrain from using fireworks or to use fireworks with an abundance of care. Westfield, like much of central Indiana has declared an emergency that prohibits all personal fireworks and any open burning. Updated information about county burn bans and local fireworks restrictions is available at dhs.in.gov under “Topics of the day.”
In an average year there are more fires on July 4 than on any other day of the year. This year, because of current dry conditions, the Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office is urgently appealing to all Hoosiers to use extra caution in all aspects of their Independence Day festivities.
Where personal fireworks are still permitted, they may only be used on private property with the owner’s permission, or at specifically designated discharge sites. Hoosiers are responsible for knowing if fireworks are banned in their area. People are reminded that they are personally liable for any damage or injury caused by the fireworks they discharge. According to state law, fireworks can be discharged, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., any day of the year. Local jurisdictions may have more time restrictions when fireworks can be used.
Fireworks of any kind should only be handled by adults or under close adult supervision.
This year, people are encouraged to attend a professional fireworks display. In Westfield, the celebration begins 4 p.m. at Asa Bales Park on the 4th of the July with fireworks lighting up the sky at 9:45 that evening.
Outdoor cooking safety
It is also important that Hoosiers consult with local officials regarding what burn bans are in effect, and whether or not outdoor grilling is permitted.
General grilling safety tips include:
- Keep grills clean by removing grease or fat buildup.
- Never leave an outdoor charcoal or gas grill unattended.
- The grill should be placed well away from the home and deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. Avoid placing the grill on dry grass, leaves, or near shrubs or mulched areas.
- Consider wetting down the area around your grill and have a water source readily available in case a fire is accidentally ignited.
- When finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before placing in a metal container.
Hot weather safety
As temperatures remain in the high 90s, Hoosiers are reminded to take precautions to limit prolonged exposure to high outdoor temperatures.
“High temperatures can be especially dangerous for children and the elderly. Anyone hosting Independence Day celebrations should make sure there are places available for guests to shelter themselves from the heat and rehydrate,” says Greeson.
Drinking plenty of water, resting in air conditioning, wearing sunscreen and loose-fitting clothing are just some of the ways to combat the heat.
Visit GetPrepared.in.gov for more extreme heat and other dry weather related safety tips.