The outdoor cooking season is here, which means many of us will be grilling countless burgers and brats over the next few months! According to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 75 percent of U.S. households own at least one barbecue, grill or smoker. Unfortunately, an average of 8,900 home fires occur each year due to the use of outdoor cooking equipment. Approximately 160 injuries and 10 deaths are the outcomes of these preventable accidents each year.
To keep such a fun activity safe, it’s important to use extra caution when grilling or making campfires. Below are a few tips from the National Fire Protection Association to help you safely prepare and use your grill this Memorial Day and beyond:
General grilling tips
- Propane and charcoal-fueled grills should only be used outdoors.
- The grill should be placed well away from the home and deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
- Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
- Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grill itself and the trays below the grill.
- Never leave your grill unattended.
Before you use your grill:
- Check the major connection points between the gas (propane) tank hose and the regulator and cylinder and also where the hose connects to the burners. Tighten if loose.
- Check the gas (propane) tank hose for potential gas leaks. To check your tank hose:
- Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose using a brush or spray bottle.
- Turn the propane tank on. If there is a gas leak, the propane will release bubbles around the hose (big enough to see).
- If there are no bubbles, your grill is safe to use.
- If there are bubbles, turn off the tank and check connections, then have your grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
- If the leak doesn’t stop, call the fire department immediately.
When the grill is on:
- If you smell gas as you’re cooking, turn off the gas tank and burners.
- If the leak stops quickly, have the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
- If the smell continues, move away from the grill and call the fire department immediately. Do not move the grill.
- There are several ways to prepare charcoal for use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.
- If using a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal lighter fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
- Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
- Electric charcoal starters which do not use fire, are also an option. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
- When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.
With these tips and determination to keep your home and loved ones safe, you are sure to create a grill-friendly environment everyone can enjoy. To learn more about grill and fire safety, click here.