Memorial Day weekend traditionally kicks off the summer with family and friends gathering for some fun in the sun, pool action, and grilling. There’s no better time than now to freshen up on grilling safety tips (May happens to be National BBQ Month). According to the U.S. Fire Administration, about 5,700 grill fires take place on residential property every year, causing an annual average of $37 million in damage, 100 injuries and 10 deaths. In addition, thousands of people visit emergency rooms every year because they have burned themselves while barbecuing.
Here are a few BBQ safety tips to follow:
When gearing up for grilling season, make sure to check grill hoses for cracks, holes and brittleness. Look for blockages caused by food drippings, spiders or insects and clear them with a wire or pipe cleaner. Also, run a soap solution (one part liquid soap, one part water) along hoses and at connections, then open the valve at your tank and check to make sure that gas isn’t escaping, which will be indicated by bubbles at the leaking points. Adjust hoses as needed away from hot areas or where grease might drip on them. Store propane tanks outside, away from your house. Always check to make sure valves are firmly turned off.
Make sure you know how to operate your barbecue by reading the manual carefully. Operate your barbecue on a level surface – away from your house, garage and landscaping. Every year hundreds of people cause fires to their houses, garages, and patios because they didn’t put their grill or smoker in the correct location. Don’t move the grill once it is lit, and keep children and pets away from the grill.
Keep the grill clean. Remove grease or fat buildup from both the grill and the tray below the grill. If you are using a charcoal grill, allow the coals to completely cool off before disposing of them in a metal container.
Take note: Charcoal grills are the cause of far more fires than gas grills. For charcoal grills, use only lighter fluid designed for grilling. Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids, and never add more lighter fluid once the fire has started. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby. When you’re done with your cooking, remember that the grill will remain hot for a while. Don’t cover or store your grill until it has cooled, and soak coals with water before throwing them away.
Wear the right clothing. Be sure shirttails, sleeves, apron strings are not dangling so they don’t catch fire.
In the Event of An Accident:
Be ready to put out the fire by having baking soda on hand to control a grease fire and a fire extinguisher nearby for other fires. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher, keep a bucket of sand next to the grill. Never use water to put out grease fire. In the event of an injury, run cool water over minor burns, but do not cover injured areas with bandages, butter or salve. In the case of more serious burns, take the victim to the ER immediately. If needed or when in doubt, call 911.
Also, be sure that while having a great time this summer that barbecuing is done with a clear head. Alcohol and fire don’t mix.