Summer Safety Tips

The San Francisco Fire Department would like for you to enjoy this summer, and to remember that enjoying the summer means paying attention to the special safety concerns associated with summertime activities.  

Have fun by being SAFE! 

Pool Safety

  • If you have a pool at home, install a fence.  The fence should be at least four-feet high and have a self-closing, self-latching gate that has a locking mechanism beyond a child's reach.
  • Supervision is a must.  Follow the 10/20 rule when you're at the pool.  The 10/20 rule states the supervising adult needs to position themselves to be able to scan the pool within 10 seconds and reach the water within 20 seconds.
  • Always check the pool first if a child is missing.  Child drowning is often a silent death that alerts no one with splashes or yells for help.  Many drowning accidents happen when children have been missing for less than five minutes.
  • Empty small wading pools after children are done playing and remove all toys.  Infants can drown in just a few inches of water.  Pool toys may attract children to the pool when it is unattended.
  • Teach your child to swim, but remember that younger children shouldn't be left unsupervised around water even if they know how to swim.
  • Have a phone poolside and learn CPR in case of emergencies.

Rip Currents

Rip currents are the most dangerous hazard for beach swimmers.  Rip currents form when water is channeled away from the beach and out to sea.  They can form whenever there are breaking waves and are difficult to identify.  These tips from the National Weather Service will help you escape a rip current alive and well.

Learn to Identify Rip Currents:

  • This may be tough for the untrained eye, but according to the NWS, wearing polarized sunglasses makes it easier to see the signs of a rip current.
    Look for: 
       • a channel of churning or choppy water 
       • an area where the water is a distinctly different color 
       • a line of foam, seaweed, or debris heading out to sea 
       • a break in the wave pattern
  • If caught in a rip current, don't panic.  You may not realize you are in a rip current until you are suddenly further away from shore than you realized.  Remain calm and conserve energy, you will need it to swim to safety.
  • Don't swim toward the shore.  That is like swimming upstream in a river and you may become tired long before you reach the beach.  Instead, swim parallel to the shore to escape the rip current.  Once you feel you are out of the current, turn towards shore.  Use landmarks to help you determine if you are still in the current.
  • If you cannot swim out of the rip current, calmly float or tread water until you are out of the current.  Exhaustion is your biggest enemy, don't fight a rip current.  When you are out, swim toward shore.
  • If you can't make it all the way to shore, stop swimming, face the beach and wave your hands and shout to attract attention.

Witness Tips:

  • If you see someone caught in a rip current, get a lifeguard.
  • If a lifeguard is unavailable, call 9-1-1.  Shout instructions to the victim on how to escape.
  • Be extremely careful; many would-be rescuers drown trying to save a victim trapped in a rip current. 

Grilling Safety

  • Keep grills at least 10 feet from any structure.  Grilling mishaps cause more than 8,300 fires and send 3,000 people to the emergency room each year.
  • Never grill indoors or near garages or porches, even if it's raining.
  • Never leave the grill unattended, especially when young children or pets are nearby.
  • Never use gasoline or kerosene to light a charcoal fire.  Both can cause an explosion.
  • When grilling, use insulated, flame retardant mitts and long handled barbeque tongs and utensils to handle food and coals.
  • Let coals/ash cool in the grill for at least 24 hours before disposing of them.  Never empty hot/warm coals into a garbage receptacle, and especially not into a plastic receptacle. 

Campfire Safety

A campfire is a necessary part of camping.  It helps light our campsite up at night, boils water and cooks our food.  It’s fun to gather around a campfire and tell chilling ghost stories late at night. Unfortunately, it is one of the most dangerous elements of any campsite.  Our guide to campfire safety will help you keep the fire in the fire ring and prevent spreading.

  • Learn how to safely start a fire.  Never use flammable liquids to ignite or keep your fire burning.  This means, avoid gasoline, diesel fuel, lighter fluid and other dangerous fuels.
  • Only start a campfire in a fire pit or fire ring that is made of solid construction.
  • Avoid starting a fire underneath low-hanging branches or shrubbery.  Fires can often flame higher then you anticipate.
  • Don't stack spare firewood too close.  If you've recently gathered some, store it upwind so that sparks don't fly into your pile.
  • Don't allow children and pets near the campfire and never leave them unsupervised.
  • Teach kids how to stop, drop, and roll if their clothing catches fire.  Have a fire extinguisher hands for emergencies.
  • Keep your fire away from anything flammable, such as dry grass, tents, paper plates and napkins, and camping gear.
  • Be aware that hot embers can re-ignite the fire if strong winds are blowing.  Shuffle the fire and make sure it's our before retiring.
  • Always have on hand things to put out your fire such as water, a shovel, and a fire extinguisher and make sure your fire is completely out before leaving it unattended.

    San Francisco Ocean Beach Fire Rings - GGNRA Beach Fire Rules (PDF)

 Putting Out Your Campfire:

  • Drown the fire with water.  Make sure all embers, coals and sticks are wet.  Move rocks; there may be burning embers underneath.
  • Stir the remains, add more water, and stir again.  Be sure all burned material has been extinguished and cooled.  If you do not have water, use dirt.  Mix enough soil and sand with the embers.  Continue adding and stirring until all material is cooled.
  • Feel all materials with your bare hand.  Make sure that no roots are burning.
  • Do not bury your coals-- they can smolder and rekindle.  Coals buried on the beach can also be stepped on by someone walking barefoot, causing painful and disabling burns to the soles of the feet.