Monsoon Safety

Monsoon season officially began on June 15th and will run through September 30th.

Hereford, Arizona - August 16, 2014: Palominas, Arizona, near Hereford, Arizona. A Bolt of Lightning Strikes in a Rural Arizona Neighborhood

Though the monsoons bring welcome rains and some relief from the heat, they also bring with them their own hazards. As far as weather goes, monsoon season is the most dangerous time of year in Arizona. If you live in the Valley then you have probably already witnessed some of the destruction and power that can be caused by the monsoons this season.

The monsoons bring with them heavy rains and flash floods as well as dust storms and dry lightning. Sometimes there is even a tornado or two reported. Last year’s monsoons brought record rainfall to the Valley and much of the state. Thanks to El Nino it looks as though this year’s monsoons will be really active as well.

Hopefully the following information will help you and your loved ones remain safe during this year’s monsoon season.


Lightning Safety

According to the National Weather Service, if you hear thunder you are close enough to a storm to be struck by lightning. Around 15 Arizona residents are injured by lightning every year, and about two people die from lightning in Arizona each year. says that if fewer than 30 seconds elapse between the time you see a flash and hear the thunder, then the flash is less than 6 miles away. Research has shown that the most successive flashes are within 6 miles, so you need to have reached a safe place if lightning is less than 6 miles away. There is a chance however that lightning could strike up to 10 miles away from the parent storm.


  • There is no safe place from lightning outdoors. When a storm arrives get inside a large building (think homes and stores, not tool shed) or inside a hard topped vehicle with the windows rolled up. Remember, “When thunder roars, go indoors.”
  • Never touch wiring once a thunderstorm has begun. It’s too late to unplug electronics once thunder is heard. To protect yourself and your sensitive electronic appliances, like TV’s and computers, it is best to unplug them before the storm begins. If the storm has already started then stay away from the appliance and their cord as they are pathways for the lightning’s electrical charge. Do not play video games connected to a TV.
  • Cordless phones and cell phones are safe to use (as long as they are not connected to a base or charger) during a storm, but you want to avoid corded phones.
  • Avoid plumbing including sinks, faucets, and baths. Plumbing can conduct electricity from lightning strikes from outside.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off of porches.
  • Do not lay on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls.
  • Stay indoors until at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.


If you cannot get indoors the National Weather Service offers these tips so that you may help to reduce your chances of injury.


  • Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks.
  • Never lie flat on the ground.
  • Stay away from tall, isolated trees or other tall objects. If you are in a forest, stay near a lower stand of trees.
  • Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter.
  • Immediately get out of and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water.
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.).
  • If you are in a group, spread out to avoid the current traveling between group members.
  • If you are camping in an open area, set up camp in a valley, ravine or other low area. Remember, a tent offers NO protection from lighting.

*If someone is struck by lightning call 911 immediately.


Dust Storm Safety

Dust storms, or haboobs, are most common at the beginning of the monsoon season. However, they can occur at any time in the season depending on rain patterns. Any time there is a thunderstorm nearby you should prepare yourself for blowing dust and reduced visibility. Dust storms are the most dangerous when you are on the road. Visibility can be decreased to near zero in just seconds, which could result in multi-vehicle accidents.


  • There is a rule to follow when you are caught driving in a dust storm, “Pull aside, Stay alive.” If you cannot avoid driving into a dust storm, pull off to the side of the road as far as you can safely do so. If you are on the highway try and make it off of it.
  • Once you have pulled off of the road put your vehicle in park and remove your foot from the break (so your brake lights are not on). Turn off your headlights and taillights. Other motorists may try and follow your lights in a storm and end up striking you.
  • Stay in your vehicle with your seatbelts buckled and wait for the storm to pass. Dust storms usually only last a couple of minutes, and usually never more than an hour.


Wind Safety

Thunderstorm wind gusts in Arizona often surpass 40 mph. The strongest gusts can even exceed 100 mph. These kinds of winds can cause damage similar to that of a tornado and are associated with microbursts.


  • When a thunderstorm approaches it is best to assume that there will be high winds. You should get inside immediately to avoid being hit by any flying debris.
  • If there is a Severe Thunderstorm Warning in effect it is probable that winds of 60 mph or more will accompany it. Stay central in your home and avoid windows.
  • Keep away from trees. The majority of deaths and injuries associated with monsoon winds are caused by falling trees, downed power lines, and flying debris.
  • Do not approach or touch any downed power lines. Always assume they are live and call for help.
  • Before monsoon season starts you should secure outdoor furniture and garbage cans or move them indoors. These things can be blown around in even the weaker storms.
  • Driving can also be dangerous in high winds. If you find it difficult to control your vehicle follow the dust storm rule, “Pull aside, Stay alive.”


Flash Flood Safety

Flash floods are the number one thunderstorm/monsoon related killer. The monsoons produce more rain than the desert soil can absorb. When this happens, runoff occurs and the water levels in the streambeds and washes rise. In Arizona there are many low water crossings that can become dangerous and impassable.


At home:

  • If your home is in a flood prone area, have an evacuation plan.
  • Have materials like plywood, sandbags, lumber and plastic sheeting on hand for quick repairs and protection from floodwaters. Store the materials above flood levels.
  • Learn where high ground is near you that is safe from flooding, and in the event of a flash flood get there quickly.
  • If you live in a flood prone area you should look into flood insurance. You can get it through the National Flood Insurance Program.


Out of the home and driving:

  • Follow the “Turn around, don’t drown” Most flash flood deaths occur in the vehicle. Running water of only one to two feet deep is enough to carry away most vehicles. As little as ten inches of water can float average-sized cars, mini-vans, SUVs and trucks. Strength of the flow is the critical force.
  • Do not drive around any barricades. It is both dangerous and illegal.
  • Do not let children play near storm drains or washes after a heavy rain.
  • Avoid low-water crossings.
  • Don’t camp in a wash or in the bottom of a canyon with steep side slopes.
  • Do not camp or park a vehicle along streams and washes.
  • Never drive through flooded roadways. Roadbeds may be washed out under floodwaters.
  • Be extra careful at night. Flood dangers are much more difficult to see in the dark.
  • Even an urban street flood can be dangerous. Driving too fast through standing water can cause a car to hydroplane. The best defense is to slow down or pull well off the road (with the lights off) for a few minutes to wait out heavy rains.
  • Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast.
  • Never attempt to cross flowing streams.
  • If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, canyons, washes, etc.
  • If your vehicle is suddenly caught in rising water, leave it immediately and seek higher ground.
  • When in doubt, wait it out, or find a safer route.


Road Safety

The Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS) offers the following traffic safety tips to assist motorists during the monsoon season.


  • Slow down. The posted speed limit may not be safe in bad weather. Vehicles have less traction on wet roads than they do on dry roads. Slower speeds allow for safer braking and stopping distances.
  • Leave plenty of room between your vehicle and other vehicles out on the road. Stopping distances and braking will be affected by slippery and wet road surfaces.
  • Watch carefully for water pooling on the roadway surface as this could cause your vehicle to slide or hydroplane.
  • Do not enter an area where the roadway has been closed by barricades due to flooding. You don’t know how deep the water is or how fast it is running. Besides, it is against the law and very dangerous to drive into a flooded area!
  • Drive with your headlights on. This increases your visibility to other vehicles.
  • At night, slow down and pay close attention to changing road and weather conditions.
  • Strong winds can be associated with a monsoon storm. Watch for blowing dust and if at all possible, avoid driving into a dust storm.
  • If you cannot avoid the dust storm drive with your headlights on and slow down. Do not stop on the roadway or on the emergency shoulder area. Pull completely off the roadway surface, stop, and turn off all vehicle lights and take your foot off of the brake.
  • Make sure your vehicle is in good condition. Ensure your head and tail lamps along with your turn signals are working properly. Replace worn out tires for better traction and maintain proper tire air pressure, replace worn out windshield wiper blades, keep windshield washer fluid topped off, and see that the brakes are in good condition.
  • Be prepared for unforeseen delays, such as flooded roads, construction or other traffic delays. Carry extra food and water in your vehicle.
  • If you suffer a mechanical breakdown or tire failure, remain calm, slow down, keep the steering wheel straight, and drive the vehicle to a safe area as far from traffic as possible.
  • ALWAYS wear your safety restraints.
  • If a power line comes into contact with your vehicle, remain inside the vehicle until help arrives. Do not attempt to get out of the vehicle – that is the safest place for you to be. By stepping out of the vehicle, your body can become the pathway for electricity to reach the ground, causing severe bodily harm and possibly electrocution. Use a cell phone, if available, to notify emergency services of your exact location.
  • Be patient and courteous. Remember other motorists are facing the same weather conditions as you.


Disaster Supply Kit

Every family should have a family disaster kit in the event of severe weather. It should contain enough of the essential items like food, water, and clothing to sustain the whole family for at least three days. That way if electric, water, and gas services are interrupted you will be prepared.

This is a list of some of the items you should have:

  • Three sealed gallons of water for each person and pet
  • First aid kit
  • Food that requires no refrigeration or cooking
  • Portable and working battery-operated radio, flashlights, and extra batteries
  • Necessary medications


Understanding Advisories, Watches, and Warnings

Warnings are not issued for lightning, mainly because most thunderstorms, no matter how weak, produce deadly cloud-to-ground lightning.


  • Watches mean that widespread severe weather is possible
  • A watch means that severe weather has not occurred yet, but weather conditions are becoming highly volatile. Pay close attention to the weather, and tune into TV, radio, or NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts frequently.
  • Warnings (Severe Thunderstorm, Flash Flood, Dust Storm, and rarely Tornado) mean that life-threatening weather is about to occur, or has been reported. Action should be taken immediately.
  • Flood Advisories mean heavy rains will cause minor flooding of washes, streams, and typical flood-prone areas. Flooding in this situation is usually not serious. If the flooding does become life threatening, then the flood advisory is upgraded to a Flash Flood Warning.


We hope that this post find you well and that everyone stays safe this monsoon season!


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Get the Scoop on Ice Cream While Celebrating National Ice Cream Day

According to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) in 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day.

This year that day is July 19th.

Chocolate and Vanilla Ice Cream

President Reagan recognized ice cream as a fun and nutritious food that is enjoyed by over 90 percent of the nation’s population.

Here’s the scoop on ice cream in honor of its special day.

  • Ice cream is a frozen food that is usually eaten as a dessert or a snack, and is commonly made from dairy products like milk and cream. It is regularly mixed with fruits and other ingredients and flavors, and sweetened with sugar or other sweeteners.
  • Annually Americans eat around 5.5 gallons of ice cream per person. That is more than anywhere else in the world.
  • There are records of Thomas Jefferson serving ice cream to guests at his home in Monticello.
  • To make one gallon of ice cream you need 12 lbs. of whole milk
  • Rocky Road became the first widely available flavor (apart from vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry) in 1929.
  • Around 9% of milk produced in the US is used to make ice cream.
  • It takes around 50 licks to finish a single scoop of ice cream.
  • Ice cream is rich in the minerals phosphorus and calcium. One-half cup serving contains about 10% of their recommended daily allowance.
  • There are many vitamins found in ice cream, such as vitamins A, C, D and E, as well as folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, and vitamins B6 and B12.
  • Ice cream is a good source of energy. According to the US Department of Agriculture, one-half cup of vanilla ice cream provides 137 kilocalories of energy, about twice the amount in one-half cup of whole milk.
  • Because ice cream is high in fat and sugar content you should eat it in moderation or choose low-fat/low-sugar options to get any of the nutritional benefits from it.
  • A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who ate at least one daily serving of full-fat dairy products, such as ice cream, gained less weight than those who didn’t.
  • California produces the most ice cream in the US.
  • Vanilla is the number one ice cream flavor choice in the US. Following vanilla are chocolate, cookies ‘n’ cream, strawberry, and chocolate chip mint, in that order.
  • Some weird flavors of ice cream are buckwheat ice cream, beer flavored ice cream, and Parmesan gelato.
  • More ice cream is sold on Sunday than any other day of the week.

This day is meant to be a fun celebration that can be enjoyed by having a bowl, cup or cone filled with your favorite flavor of ice cream. Or perhaps you could even have a milkshake or root beer float. You could even try one of our recipes here on Fill Your Plate.


Pumpkin Milkshake

  • 1/4 Cup, plus 1 Tablespoon Pumpkin Puree
  • 1/2 Cup Chevre
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Goat Milk
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Clove
  • 3 Cups Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Garnish Whipped cream and freshly grated Nutmeg


Place pumpkin, cream cheese, milk, cinnamon, and cloves in the jar of a blender. Add ice cream and pulse until smooth. Divide among 2 regular or 4 miniature glasses, garnish with whipped cream and grated nutmeg. Serve immediately. *Cream cheese can be substituted for chèvre. Whole milk can be substituted for goat milk.

Provided by: Rhonda Crow, Crow’s Dairy, Inc.


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9 Tips for a Better Shopping Experience with Your Children

By Katherine Cook

Every parent knows that taking your kids to the grocery store can be quite the hassle. Grocery shopping with young kids can really test the limits of your patience.

Family shopping for some groceries at the supermarket


It doesn’t have to be that way though. Here are some ideas that have worked for me when I go shopping with my children that make the trip less rough.


  1. Give them a heads up. While you are getting ready to go to the store and/or in the car on your way over talk to them about your expectations. Letting them know in advance the purpose of the trip to the store and making them aware ahead of time that you will not be making any extra purchases may help prevent tantrums. “We’re only buying milk and bread this time — no extras.” I also find it helpful to repeat our intent once again as we enter the store.

It is important to be firm and consistent with this.  Setting limits (and sticking to them) is key. If you have the talk on the way over then allow them to get that ball or candy bar they won’t take your talks seriously the next time. This could cause a problem on your next shopping trip when you do tell them “no.”


  1. Make sure everyone is fed. Going to the grocery store on an empty stomach is hard for anyone. You spend more because when you are hungry everything looks good, and you have to have it. With kids it is no different. That box of brownies that isn’t on the list isn’t only calling out to you but is screaming out to your kids as well. The difference is that as adults we have learned more self-control. So while we may be able to walk away, our kids may not be able to quite as easily. This could result in the child throwing a fit when you walk away.

Being hungry also affects your mood, and in a negative way. So you will all be grumpy and when that fit begins you may lose your cool more quickly.  If that is the case, the whole situation may spiral out of control before you know it.  So fill up before you shop.


  1. Make sure everyone is rested. A sleepy child can make for a grumpy child, which makes them harder to reason with. Avoid taking them shopping close to nap time or bed time.


  1. Give yourself time. Shopping with young children usually isn’t a quick affair, often taking an hour or longer. So to avoid added stress, I find that going shopping at a time that we will not have to rush around is very important. Children are highly sensitive to their parents’ emotions. I know that when I am in a hurry and stressing out that is when my kids have the most trouble at the store. Added stress makes it more difficult to handle any possible outbursts well. If you are like me, you may snap at them and that will only have a snowball effect of negative emotions for all of you. Give yourself plenty of leeway to get the job done in a relaxed manner.


  1. Bring something familiar. This leans more towards the really young children. Stores can be loud and crowded places that can be overwhelming to little ones. Bringing their blanket, or a toy they find comforting, or one of their favorite books may help to keep them from becoming overstimulated and avoid meltdowns. My youngest son is now 16 months old and he always has a stuffed animal and a snack and sippy (drink) with him at the store.


  1. Get the kids involved. Assign them tasks while you are shopping. Allow them to push a kids shopping cart or hold a basket. Maybe give them their own list to mark off as you get things or allow them to mark things off of your list. Ask them to grab the loaf of bread and put it in the cart. Little things like that will keep them busy and also makes them feel proud and a little powerful. Little kids like to help their parents, and they want to be just like them. Allowing them to do some of the tasks makes them feel just a touch more special and in control of the situation, which they love. It can also be a great learning experience. Have them pick out four red apples and six green apples, or something similar. It will help your child learn their colors and work on their counting skills.


  1. Play games. Playing games when shopping is a great way to keep your child from thinking about how long it is taking or about that extra bag of potato chips. With so many different items in a grocery store, “I Spy” is a great game to play. Grocery store bingo is fun too, or guess the weight (Fill the produce bag with however many items you want, like 12 carrots and ask your child to guess how much it weighs. Then place it in the scale to see who is closest.) I found some fun stuff for my 8 year old too at this link  that we enjoy. You can let the kids get creative and come up with some of their own too.


  1. Take shorter, planned out trips. If you can, try and break your shopping up. Maybe do half on Monday and half on Thursday, or whatever days your schedule allows. Shorter trips are less overwhelming for everyone. Having a thorough list also makes things go more smoothly. Write everything down even if you are positive you won’t forget it so you don’t have to go back to the store again.


  1. Praise good behavior. After you are all loaded up and headed home think of something your child did well at the store and tell them how proud you are of them for it. It could be something as simple as listening to you the first time you asked them not to touch something, or picking up something they dropped. Whatever it is acknowledge that they did it and show them that you are thankful. Kids love praise and acceptance and they will remember this more than the scolding they get for the things they did wrong.

If you feel like rewarding your child for their good behavior, it is better to do so with activities and not objects. (In my experience, rewarding with objects could lead to asking for more at the store again and result in meltdowns when you tell them no.) My kids like it when I reward them with more time at the park, or read an extra story at bed time, or let them choose the station we listen to on the radio.


Children find it more difficult than we do to control their impulses and desires. Simply put, they see, they want, they beg. Hopefully these tips work as well for you at better controlling, or even preventing, the kids’ gimme-gimmes as they do for my family.


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16 Remarkable Facts about Cows for National Cow Appreciation Day

July 14th is National Cow Appreciation Day. This is a day set aside to serve as a reminder of how special cows are.

Head of funny cow looking to a camera with Alps and green meadow

In recent months we have posted about the importance of eating beef as part of your healthy diet, beef by-products, and the importance of dairy. So with this we will set out to teach you about the remarkable animal that is the cow itself.

  1. Cows, like humans, form friendships. They may also hold grudges and dislike particular individuals.
  2. Cows are cud chewing animals, or ruminants. Camels and sheep are also ruminants.
  3. The word “cow” is reserved only for female bovine. Males are called steers or bulls.
  4. A cow will spend 10 to 12 hours lying down per day, however only around four hours are spent sleeping.
  5. Cattle have almost 300 degrees of vision, allowing them to watch for humans and predators from all angles. It is nearly impossible to sneak up on a cow.
  6. A cow has a very keen sense of smell. They can detect odors coming from up to six miles away. This is also effective in detecting danger and predators.
  7. They can also hear both low and high frequency sounds beyond human capability.
  8. Cows and bulls are color blind and unable to see the color red. So the red flags that matadors use do not attract a bull because of their color, but because of the movement.
  9. Cows are very social animals and don’t like to be alone. When a cow isolates herself it is either because she is going to give birth, or she is not feeling well.
  10. Cattle, like many other grazing animals, have one stomach that is divided into for chambers: the reticulum, omasum, abomasum, and rumen. Having this kind of stomach allows the cattle to digest grasses and grain more effectively.
  11. Like humans, the cows’ gestational period is nine months. Depending on breed, a calf will weigh anywhere between 55 to 99 lbs. They are devoted mothers and will walk for miles to find their calves.
  12. A bovine will consume about 40 pounds of food a day and spend about 8 hours a day eating.
  13. A cows knees cannot bend properly to walk downstairs. So you can lead them upstairs, but not back down.
  14. In the US there are nearly 11 million cows and six main breeds. Those breeds are the Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Holstein (the popular black and white spotted cows), Jersey, and Milking Shorthorn.
  15. The spots on a Holstein are like a fingerprint. No two cows have the same pattern of white and black spots.
  16. Belted Galloways are a breed of cow that are nicknamed “Oreo” cows in the US because their color pattern resembles that of an Oreo cookie.

At first glance, it may seem that cows are simple animals, but as you can see they are actually quite fascinating!

To learn even more about cows you can head over to Shamrock Farms in Stanfield. They offer a 60 minute tour of their dairy farm on an open-air tram. You may get to watch a farmer milk a cow, pet a calf, and maybe even witness the birth of a calf!

The Superstition Farm in Mesa is another dairy farm that welcomes visitors. They will first educate you about cows and dairy farming in their classroom that they lovingly call the Moo-University. Then you will go for an educational tour of the farm on a tractor pulled hayride. After the tour you will have the opportunity to be educated on how to properly hand feed some of their rescue animals such as goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits, and more. After this they will take you down to their milk bar so you can try a glass of one of their 13 milk flavors. There is also a petting zoo at the farm, and they allow you to host children’s birthday parties at the farm as well.

Chick-fil-a is celebrating Cow Appreciation Day on the 14th! They are offering a free entrée to anyone who comes in dressed partially as a cow, and a full meal free to those who dress fully like a cow! You can find more details on their webpage.

Happy National Cow Appreciation Day!

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15 Tips For Grilling Safely This Summer

Grilling is an extremely popular pastime over the summer months, so it comes as no wonder that July is National Grilling Month.

Grilling Pork Chops

Many Arizonans will grill at their pool parties or over the summer holidays, like the 4th of July, but most people don’t stop to think about grilling safety measures beforehand. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states that every year an average of 8,800 home fires are caused by grilling and that nearly half of all grill injuries are due to thermal burns. July is the peak month for grill fires with May, June, and August following.


With these simple tips, you will be on your way to enjoying a safe grilling season.


  1. The first time you use your gas grill for the grilling season, be sure to check the gas lines and valves for cracks, holes and blockages. If you find any they need to be repaired before use. It may be wise to find someone with grill expertise to check for you. The NFPA says that leaks or breaks were factors in one of every five reported grill fires in 2012.
  2. Liquid petroleum tanks should be stored in a secure and upright position. Don’t store extra containers under the grill. Always follow the tank expiration date recommendations.
  3. When using gas grills always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.
  4. If you suspect that your grill has a gas leak, do not use it until the problem has been fixed.
  5. Grills (gas or charcoal) should never be operated in enclosed areas like campers, tents and garages.
  6. When cooking on a charcoal grill you should always follow the directions on the charcoal bags. Also, you need to always make sure that the charcoal is completely extinguished before discarding.
  7. Grills should always be kept on level ground and at least 10 feet away from buildings, shrubs or anything that may catch fire.
  8. Never leave a grill unattended. Children and pets should be kept away from grills to prevent injury. There were 16,900 patients sent to emergency rooms because of injuries involving grills in 2012.
  9. Always be ready to extinguish flames if necessary. The Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association (HPBA) says to use baking soda to control a grease fire and have a fire extinguisher handy. A bucket of sand or a garden hose should be near if you don’t have a commercial extinguisher.
  10. Keep your grill clean. Remove grease and fat buildup from the grill and in the trays below the grill.
  11. When you are using a gas grill, if at any time you smell gas while you are cooking immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do NOT move the grill.
  12. If you use a starter fluid for charcoal, you should only use charcoal starter fluid. Once you have fire, do not add more fluid.
  13. Keep any flammable objects away from the grill. One out of every six home structure fires involving grills start because something like food packaging, oven mitts or dish towels were left too close to the heat.
  14. Wear clothing that does not have frills, hanging shirt tails, or apron strings that can catch fire, and use flame-retardant mitts when adjusting hot vents.
  15. Keep clear of hot grills to avoid burns. According to the HPBA the grill body remains hot for nearly an hour after being used.

*If you are grilling away from home at a campout please remember to put out flames entirely after every use and try and minimalize sparks. Arizona is especially dry in the summer and taking the proper precautions to avoid starting a brush or forest fire is very important.

Grilling is meant to be a fun experience with your family and friends and by following these tips you can help to make sure that it stays that way. Stay safe and happy grilling!



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