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Summer Safety Series: Grilling

Updated: Apr 15

BBQ hamburgers

Up next in our Summer Fire Safety Series is what may be considered America’s second greatest pastime: grilling. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), seven out of every 10 adults in the U.S. have a grill or smoker—a statistic we were surprised by! And with that much grilling happening across the country this Summer, the risk of home fires and fire damage only grows higher: the NFPA reports that 10,200 home fires are started by grills each year on average, and 19,000 patients went to the ER each year because of injuries involving grills.

So, whether you’ve been serving up whole-roasted pigs for years now at your annual neighborhood barbecue or you’re trying your hand at homemade burgers for the first time, now is the time to review some basic fire safety tips about grilling to make sure that the only thing that burns near your grill this season is the outside of the best tasting brisket you’ve ever had.

Here are some general grilling safety tips for the most common grilling scenarios:

  1. Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.

  2. The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

  3. Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.

  4. Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.

  5. Never leave your grill unattended.

  6. Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.

If you have a charcoal grill, here are some specific tips for you:

  1. There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.

  2. If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.

  3. Keep charcoal fluid our of the reach of children and away from heat sources.

  4. There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.

  5. When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

And finally some tips for propane grill users:

  1. Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year.

  2. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles.

  3. If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubbles test, and there is no flame, turn off both the gas tank and the grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.

  4. If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.

  5. If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait as least 5 minutes before re-lighting it.

For more information about grilling safety, including handy infographics and videos, check out the NFPA’s webpage about grilling here. We hope you and your loved ones have a safe Summer using these tips when grilling. Stay tuned for our next post for more Summer fire safety information!

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