As the Memorial Day Weekend kicks off the unofficial start of summer, grillers everywhere are dusting off their spatulas and are eager to let the grilling season commence. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is recommending that grillers be mindful of safety, especially as the peak months for grilling fires, June and July, approach. While gas grills contribute to a higher number of home fires than their charcoal counterparts, all grills pose a risk for fires and burns.
Gas grills were involved in an annual average of 7,100 home fires in 2006-2010, while charcoal or other solid-fueled grills were involved in an annual average of 1,200 home fires, according to a 2012 NFPA report on cooking fires. More than one-quarter (28 percent) of home structure grill fires started on a courtyard, terrace or patio, 28 percent started on an exterior balcony or open porch, and 6 percent started in the kitchen.
Hannah Storm, ESPN SportsCenter anchor was severely burned in a grill fire. She worked with NFPA to record several videos to share her storyand raise awareness for grilling safety in hopes that others will avoid similar incidents. Video PSA (:30) also available.
Grills should be placed well away from the home and deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. If there is a fire involving grilling equipment, any fuel for the fire should not be near the home or any other structure.
Grilling season is a great time of year for friends and families to have cookouts and tailgate, but before starting the season, be sure your grill is working properly and review safety tips, said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Communications for NFPA. Leaks or breaks were the leading factors contributing to gas grill fires. It is good practice to check for damage before using it for the first time each year, and better practice to clean and check on the state of the grill regularly.
Some other grilling safety tips from the NFPA are:
Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
Keep children and pets at least three feet 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.
Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before igniting it.
· 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.
· If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least 15 minutes before re-lighting it.
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.