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Safety critical with festivals, cooking

4 Jul 2013 | Lance Cpl. Peter Sanders

CAMP FOSTER, Japan — The hot summer months can be a very enjoyable time of year and are often celebrated with festivals, fireworks and food.

To ensure this is an entertaining and memorable time of year, safety must be everyone’s first thought, according to Staff Sgt. Thomas D. Sanford, customs staff noncomissioned officer in charge with the Provost Marshal’s Office, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, Marine Corps Installations Pacific.

Although many festivals include spectacular firework displays, personal fireworks are strictly prohibited for all status of forces agreement personnel, according to Marine Corps Bases Japan Order 11320.1.

“Over time, fireworks have become louder, bigger and more extravagant,” said Sanford. “This translates to them becoming more lethal and requires more attention to detail to handle.”
Besides the risk of injury, personal firework displays will result in disciplinary action, according to Sanford.

In addition to fireworks, another subject synonymous with summer festivities is food. Cooking outside on a grill is a common image when people think of summer, according to Michael Joseph, the assistant chief of fire prevention with Marine Corps Installations Pacific Fire and Emergency Services.

“We all like to cook on the grill,” said Joseph. “People looking to grill should only use starter fluid meant for grills and should never add fluid after the grill is lit.”

Individuals using charcoal and propane grills should be mindful of children and pets, and ensure they stay a safe distance from any cooking area, according to Joseph.

Grills should remain a minimum of ten feet from any fire hazard such as buildings and their overhangs, and should not block or obstruct any emergency-escape route, according to MCBJO 11320.1.

“Know where your fire extinguisher is and follow the instructions on it,” said Joseph. “The fire is more likely to be contained and extinguished at the scene, preventing emergency personnel from having to be called.”

Whether cooking indoors or out, it is important to remember proper food handling to prevent food poisoning, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Proper hand washing is the first step in the fight against disease, according to CDC. Bacteria can grow anywhere, especially on people’s hands.

Another common cause of food poisoning is cross contamination that is caused from bacteria from one food item being exposed to another item, according to the CDC. To reduce the risk of sickness caused by this, be sure to wash utensils, hands and surfaces after each use.

Along with cooking and eating delicious foods, another important factor to remember while participating in all summer activities is appropriate fluid intake, according to Joseph.

“We see people lose consciousness because of dehydration, especially on hot summer days,” said Joseph. “Make sure you drink plenty of water, especially if you are new to Okinawa.”

“Usually when someone hurts or injures themselves, it is due to last-minute plans and throwing safety considerations out the window,” said Sanford.

Proper preparation can help people avoid having an unfavorable experience with whatever summer activity they choose, according to Sanford.

Base safety personnel are available to assist with any general safety concerns as well, added Joseph.

“If anyone has any questions, give the station a call at 645-0299,” said Joseph. “We are more than happy to help figure out safety considerations, prepare your residence, or answer any questions you may have.”

If an emergency arises, call 911 from a DSN line or 098-911-1911 from a cellular device.

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