According to the National Fire Protection Association, July is the peak month for grill fires which lead to substantial home damage, injuries, and sometimes deaths. On average, 11,000 house fires occur annually due to grilling mishaps.
Luckily, you can enjoy grilling if you follow these simple safety precautions.
General Safety Precautions
- Clean your grill before you fire it up. Fat can buildup on grills and trays, which can easily lead to a fire.
- Position your grill well away from structures, fences, railings, and trees. NFPA data shows 27% of outdoor grill fires started on a patio, courtyard, or terrace and a further 29% started on a balcony or porch.
- Operate charcoal and propane grills outdoors.
- Ensure your grill is on a flat, stable, and non-combustible surface.
- Ensure pets and children are at least three feet away from the grill at all times. Almost half of all grilling injuries are thermal burns.
- Use grilling tools with long handles to avoid injuries.
- Wear appropriate attire. Invest in an apron and oven mitts and keep shirt sleeves and apron strings away from the fire.
- Do not leave a hot grill unattended. Gas grills stay hot even after they’re shut off and charcoal takes a very long time to burn down to ash.
- Keep baking soda and a fire extinguisher nearby. Alternatively, a bucket of sand can extinguish a fire.
- Never use water on a grease fire.
Charcoal grills demand special precautions as they are manually lit and the charcoal continues to burn down to hot embers and then ash. You can start the charcoal burning with a chimney starter which is basically a metal cone you fill with newspaper and light. Electric charcoal starters offer an element you rest on the charcoals and many people still use lighter fluid to get their fire going.
Don’t use other combustible liquids, such as gas, to light charcoal. Never add more fluid to burning charcoals either. Both of these practices can lead to explosions, fires, or severe burns. Also keep starter fluid well away from heat sources and children.
Let the coals cool before disposal. Use a metal container and store it away from flammable materials.
About 61% of Americans own a propane grill. Unfortunately, many people use them every year, but don’t maintain them.
Test for leaks before you fire up your grill for the first time this season. Apply a soap and water solution to the hose and turn on the gas. If you see bubbles, you’ll need to replace the hose or fittings. Luckily, these are usually available at your local home improvement or hardware store. If you smell gas near your grill later in the season, repeat the test and repair the unit.
If you can’t get the grill to light or the flame goes out, shut off the gas and wait five minutes. Don’t use the built-in igniter with the lid closed. Use a long-handled lighter if the igniter does not work.
Follow these tips and you’ll reduce the chances of fire and injuries and better care for your grill. Enjoy your summer and keep grilling!