Be sure to use safe grilling practices as the peak months for grilling fires approach – Memorial Day through Labor Day. Gas grills constitute a higher risk, having been involved in an annual average of 7,200 home fires in 2007-2011, while charcoal or other solid-fueled grills were involved in an annual average of 1,400 home fires.
Facts & figures
- In 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 8,800 home and outside fires. These 8,800 fires caused an annual average of 10 civilian deaths, 140 civilian injuries and $96 million in direct property damage.
- More than one-quarter (27%) of the home structure fires involving grills started on a courtyard, terrace or patio, 29% started on an exterior balcony or open porch, and 6% started in the kitchen.
- In almost half (43%) of the home outdoor fires in which grills were involved, half (51%) of the outside gas grills, and 29% of gas grill structure fires, the fire started when a flammable or combustible gas or liquid caught fire.
As the BBQ season starts, fire in the grill, under hot dogs and burgers, is a welcome sight. But fire anywhere else can make your summer barbecues memorable for all the wrong reasons. Here are some safety tips.
- Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
- The grill should be placed well away from the home, 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 grills and in trays below the grill.
- Never leave your grill unattended.
- 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.
- If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
- Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
- There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. 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.
Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and 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. If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.
Source: NFPA – National Fire Protection Association