Memorial Day is fast-approaching, and with it comes warmer weather and grilling. Unfortunately, according to the National Fire Protection Association, over 7,000 Americans injure themselves and cause over 8,900 house fires using their grills annually. Here are a few helpful tips to keep you safe this season.
Many people use their grill too close to their home. The NFPA states 27 percent of grill fires start on a patio, terrace or courtyard. A further 29 percent start on balconies and open porches. Choose a location further from your home when you operate this heat and flame producing appliance.
Experts recommend you grill at least 10 feet away from your home and other flammable structures such as a garage, carport, or wooden railings. Keep decorative items such as patio furniture, cushions and wooden planters away, too and don’t operate your grill under wooden eaves. Never try to move a hot grill or operate it indoors – they emit deadly carbon dioxide gas and require ventilation.
Check It Before You Light It
If you use a gas grill and it sat idle for many months, check the hoses and connections. Prepare a soapy water solution and rub it over these and check for bubbles – a sure sign of a leak. Replace defective parts and test your unit again. Gas grills are the primary cause of fires, according to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association.
Read the owners’ manual carefully if you bought a new grill. It provides assembly and operational instructions. Check electrical cords and use a grounded outlet for electric grills.
Keep It Clean
Cleaning your grill regularly is extremely important, especially after grilling fatty foods like pork or beef. Grease buildup is a major source of flare ups, which contribute to fires.
Use It Safely
Don’t close the lid on your gas grill without igniting the gas. It can cause a fireball when you open the lid and light it. If you cannot start your gas grill, always shut off the gas and wait at least 5 minutes before you try again.
If you use charcoal, consider buying a chimney starter, which uses newspaper instead of lighter fluid. Never douse charcoals with additional fluid if you already tried to start them. A small ember can cause the fluid to ignite rapidly.
Wear Appropriate Clothing
When the weather warms we tend to wear shorts and light clothing and may not wear sleeves at all. Buy a proper barbecue apron, oven mitts, and barbecue tools to avoid burns and spatters.
Stay by your grill while cooking. A grill fire can double in size every minute. If you stray away, pets or children could injure themselves on the hot grill or you might not see the initial signs of a problem.
Prepare for a Fire
Buy a fire extinguisher and learn how to use it. Keep baking soda or sand nearby to douse a grease fire. Do not try to put it out with water! If you cannot put the fire out quickly, call the fire department.
Shut It Down Correctly
If you use a gas grill, shut off the burners and the fuel supply. Unplug an electric grill and allow all grills to completely cool. It can take up to an hour. Wrap spent charcoal in aluminum foil once it has cooled and discard in a non-combustible garbage can.