Safety Tips For Summer Grilling

Every year Americans look forward to summer vacations, camping, family reunions, picnics, and the Fourth of July. Summertime, however, also brings fires and injuries due to outdoor cooking and recreational fires. Annually, there are almost 3,800 Americans injured by gas or charcoal grill fires. (Source: CPSC)

Summertime should be a time of fun and making happy memories. Knowing a few fire safety tips and following safety instructions will help everyone have a safe summer.

Residential Grill Fire Facts

  • An estimated 5,700 grill fires occur on residential properties each year in the United States.
  • Almost half (49 percent) of grill fires on residential properties occur from 5 to 8 p.m.
  • Over half (57 percent) of grill fires on residential properties occur in the 4 months of May, June, July, and August.
  • Thirty-two percent of grill fires on residential properties start on patios, terraces, screened-in porches, or courtyards.

Place your grill a safe distance from play areas and keep children away from the grill area by declaring a three-foot “safe zone.”

Grill Safety

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills must only be used outdoors. If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces such as tents, they pose both a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to toxic gases and potential asphyxiation.
  • Position the grill well away from siding, deck railing, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and foot traffic.
  • Keep children and pets from the grill area: declare a three-foot “safe zone” around the grill.
  • Put out several long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames when cooking.
  • Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below the grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.

Charcoal Grills

  • Purchase the proper starter fluid and store out of reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going.

Propane Grills

  • Check the propane cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will reveal escaping propane quickly by releasing bubbles.
  • If you determined your grill has a gas leak by smell or the soapy bubble test and there is no flame:
    1. Turn off the propane tank and grill.
    2. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
    3. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.
  • All propane cylinders manufactured after April 2002 must have overfill protection devices (OPD). OPDs shut off the flow of propane before capacity is reached, limiting the potential for release of propane gas if the cylinder heats up. OPDs are easily identified by their triangular-shaped hand wheel.
  • Use only equipment bearing the mark of an independent testing laboratory. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.
  • Never store propane cylinders in buildings or garages. If you store a gas grill inside during the winter, disconnect the cylinder and leave it outside.

While taking precautions can help prevent a fire from starting, it is not a 100% guarantee.  It’s important to know that fire spreads quickly. In just two minutes, a fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames.

The following checklist serves as a quick reference and guide for you to follow after a fire strikes.

  • Contact the fire department
  • Contact a Restoration Company to ensure your house is secured once the fire is extinguished.  They will do so by boarding up any windows or doors that have been damaged.
  • If you are insured, contact your insurance company.
  • Check with the fire department to make sure your residence is safe to enter. Be watchful of any structural damage caused by the fire.
  • The fire department should see that utilities are either safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site.  DO NOT attempt to reconnect utilities yourself.
  • It’s possible that many of your possessions may be damaged.  Do not throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is made.  Your Restoration Company will provide this service.
  • The Restoration Company will act as a reference for your insurance company and assist you in the claims process.
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