SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Independence Day just wouldn't feel right without watching a colorful array of fireworks light up the sky, but for most, the traditions don't stop there. Many will be taking to the outdoors next weekend to fire up their grills, but open flames require extra attention and precautions.
When this time of year rolls around, an important question always pops up. Charcoal or gas? Many people prefer the charcoal taste, but love the convenience that gas offers. Tiffany Ramirez and her family don't have a hard time making up their minds.
"Always charcoal. We don't do gas. I don't know, it tastes better," said Ramirez.
Her family lights up the grill almost every weekend, so it has become a tradition. This tradition comes with regulations, especially for people living in apartments.
Gulfport Fire Battalion Chief Lonnie Necaise said that many times, apartment residents may not even be aware of the restrictions.
"What we have is a lot of times people are new to the area and they move into an apartment complex, say in the wintertime, and that issue is not addressed. So, they'll usually start doing something this time of year not knowing," said Necaise.
Most cities have the same restrictions on the use of grills on apartment balconies. It's strongly discouraged, and even prohibited in some cities, to use grills on the second floor or higher. Necaise said if you're not sure of your city's policy, there are ways to find out.
"You can either call the local fire department in your area, or easiest thing if you're in an apartment complex, get with the property manager. They will have a list of rules and regulations," said Necaise.
These regulations are meant to keep everyone safe and having a good time. Necaise's advice is simple.
"Just use common sense is what we tell everybody," said Necaise.
Some cities have different ways of enforcing apartment grilling policies. D'Iberville, for instance, doesn't issue citations in most cases where grills are being used on apartment balconies. Biloxi does have policies in place that could result in fines.
Other safety tips include keeping grills away from houses and making sure that your propane tank is closed when not in use.