Barbecues on the beach and cookouts by the pool are in full swing as June, July and August bring hot temperatures and outdoor family fun. Who doesn’t like a hamburger on the grill with a toasted bun or a roasted-vegetable kabob wrapped in aluminum foil? It’s an American pastime during summer to cook and eat al fresco.
With the festive feasting comes unfortunate fires. An average of 8,800 of them every year are caused by grilling. In addition, burns account for nearly half of all injuries caused by grilling. It’s time to turn up the heat on the statistics and heed the warnings because July is the No. 1 month for grill fires. May, June and August are Nos. 2, 3 and 4, respectively.
“In 2012, 16,900 patients went to emergency rooms because of injuries involving grills,” according to the National Fire Protection Association, which offers a “Grilling Safety Tips” video on its Web site. “One of every six (16%) home structure fires in which grills were involved in ignition, something that could catch fire was too close to the grill.”
Further, breaks and / or leaks in the grill’s hardware caused one of every five (20 percent) grill fires.
“This may sound scary, but preventing grill fires is not as hard as you think,” writes the NFPA’s Lorraine Carli on the Martha Stewart Web site. “All it takes is a little preplanning. By following a few simple summer safety precautions and guidelines, you can enjoy delicious grilled meals all season long.”
Carli offers five simple safety steps to take as you prepare to make your manly meal.
- Only use grills outdoors.
- Position grills away from fences, railings and walls and out far enough from eaves and overhanging branches that could catch fire.
- Teach young children it’s dangerous to approach the grilling area.
Constantly monitor your grill when it is lit. A lit grill never should be left unattended.
Clean your grill’s grates frequently – ideally, after every use – to prevent a buildup of food that could flame up.
One of the easiest aspects of grilling – igniting it – also is the riskiest because of the possibility of a flash fire or, worse, an explosion of propane. An article on the Propane 101 Web site offers more tips for consumers.
- Place all control knobs in the off position, then cautiously lift the lid.
- Release the propane from the tank slowly to ensure a steady flow of gas, then turn the control knobs to the on position. It is recommended the burner closest to the tank be turned on first, with the remaining ones in sequence.
When you have finished cooking, close the propane tank valve to the off position prior to turning off the control knobs, and don’t put the cover (if you have one) over the grill until is it completely cooled down.