As grillmasters dust off and fire up their grills this Memorial Day Weekend in anticipation for the unofficial start of summer, the National Fire Protection Association recommends grillers focus on safety.
Home fires involving grilling accidents occur most often during the summer months of June and July, when grillers need to pay even more attention to safety.
According to a 2013 NFPA report on cooking equipment fires, gas grills were involved in an annual average of 7,200 home fires in 2007-2011, while charcoal or other solid-fueled grills were responsible for an average of 1,400 home fires.
While gas grills contribute to a higher number of home fires than charcoal grills, the NFPA reminds everyone that all grills pose a risk for fire and burn injuries. About 27 percent of home structure grill fires started in a courtyard, terrace, or patio, while 29 percent started on an exterior balcony or open porch. Only 6 percent started in a kitchen, according to the 2013 report.
“Grilling season is a great time of year for friends and families to have cookouts and tailgate, but before starting the season, be sure your grill is working properly and review safety tips,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy for NFPA. “Propane gas hose leaks or breaks were the leading factors contributing to gas grill fires. It is good practice to check for damage before using it for the first time each year, and to clean and check the entire grill regularly.”
When grilling, the NFPA suggests the following:
-Stay alert when grilling. Don’t grill while you’re sleepy or when you are drinking alcohol.
-Don’t leave your cooking/grilling area unattended.
-Keep your children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area, and remove flammable materials from around the grill.
Some additional grilling tips to consider are:
-Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
-Grills should be place well away from the home and deck railings, and out from under leaves and overhanging branches.
-Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose can help find links. Occasionally, you can smell the propane, but the propane will also produce bubbles when the solution is applied. If you detect a leak, shut off the propane tank immediately. If the leak stops, have the grill serviced. If the leak continues, contact the Turlock Fire Department at 209-668-5590.
-Always make sure the lid to your gas grill is open before igniting.
-If you smell gas while grilling, immediately move away from the grill and contact the fire department. Do not move the grill.
-If the flames go out for any reason, turn off the gas and grill, and wait at least 15 minutes before re-lighting it.
-Keep your grill clean by regularly removing grease and fat buildup from the trays below.
-If you use starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid, or any other flammable liquid, to the flames.
-Keep charcoal fluid out of reach of children and away from heat sources.
-When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container with a lid.