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Grill Fires and Safety

The sweet smells of summer are here and many of us are already enjoying more outdoor activities. One of those activities involves the grill and whole lot of southern comfort foods.  The aromas of a newly lighted grill and fresh hamburgers, hot dogs and ribs bring us back to the good ol’ days of our childhood neighborhood. And for many, we love to carry on that tradition with our own children when the warmer temperatures hit.  However, before we flip over that fresh patty, we need to be mindful that the months of June and July see a higher percentage of fire accidents.

According to a study done in 2013 by the National Fire and Protection Association, annually there were 7,200 home fires from 2007-2011 due to gas grill accidents. Charcoal grills and other fueled-grills were responsible for an annual average of 1,400 home fires. The study also revealed that more than one-quarter of home structure grill fires started on a terrace or patio, while 29 percent (29%) started on an exterior balcony or open porch.

A study done by FEMA in 2010, stated that grill fires on residential properties resulted in an average of 10 deaths, 100 injuries and $37 million in property loss each year. Most of these fires (49%) occurred between 5:00pm-8:00pm in the months of May thru August.

Both FEMA and the National Fire and Protection Association have said that the leading cause of residential fires is “mechanical failure or malfunction” of the product. The second reason is due to leaks, break of containers or pipes that set fire to a residential property.

Therefore, what can we do to keep those sweet smells of summer going and safe for all family and friends at the barbeque?

  • Stay alert when grilling. Do not grill if you are sleepy or when you are drinking alcohol.
  • Don’t leave your cooking/grill area unattended.
  • Keep children and pets at least three (3) feet away from the grill area. Remove flammable materials from the area around the grill.
  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
  • Grills should be placed well away from the home and deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. NOTE: A light soap and water solution applied to the hose is a great way to check for leaks. You can often smell a propane leak but propane will also release bubbles when the soap and water solution is applied. If you detect a leak, turn the gas tank and grill off. 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.
  • Always make sure that your gas grill lid is open before igniting.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately move away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.
  • If the flames go out for any reason, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least 15 minutes before re-lighting it.
  • Keep your grill clean by regularly removing grease or fat buildup from the grates and trays below.

Let’s keep the welfare of our families at the forefront of our minds and carry on the backyard traditions! If we pay attention to these tips, you and your family will be in for the sweet and safe treats of grilling!

Click here, or cut-and-paste the below link, for a printable quick-reference Grilling Fire Safety bulletin:

For more information on this article, contact Kaine Law.


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