One of the greatest things about summer is the ability to enjoy outdoor activities. With warmer weather comes days by the pool, fresh cut grass, and of course, the smell of meat on the grill or in the smoker. Now that summer is here, whether you are the grill master or the taste tester, there are important barbecue safety points to remember that will help keep your backyard get-together safe.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, each year an average of 9,600 house fires are caused by grills and 16,600 patients visit the ER for grill injuries. July, the peak month for grill fires, is closely followed by May, June, and August. Here are some basic precautions you should take before starting your grill:
- Your grill should be at least 10 feet away from your house and in an open uncovered area;
- Be sure to clean your grill regularly as NFPA research claims an unclean grill is a leading cause to grill fires;
- Keep an eye on the grill as grease fires can start rapidly;
- Keep children away from the grill; and
- Ensure all gaskets and hoses are well maintained;
Gas vs. Charcoal
It has been suggested that 70% of America’s households own at least one grill, with 64% them being gas grills. This is consistent with the statistic that 82% of grill related house fires involve gas grills. Though, both gas and charcoal have risks, be sure to take the necessary steps to ensure your safety and prevent burn injuries.
If you use a chimney to start your charcoal grill, use a long match or lighter to ignite the newspaper. If your preferred method to lighting your coals is lighter fluid, be sure to use only charcoal grill specific fluid. Once the coals are lit, do not use additional starter fluid or other flammable liquid. While grilling, keep children and pets at safe distance and never leave the grill unattended. When finished, make sure the fire is out and the coals are cooled off, use water if needed. If you empty the ashes from the grill, use a fire resistant container and place it away from objects that can catch fire. The NFPA lists leaving flammable objects too close to the grill as the leading cause of house fires caused by charcoal grills.
If you are using a gas grill, be sure to check for leaks or breaks in the propane tank hose. NFPA research lists this as the leading cause for gas grill related fires. To check for leaks, make sure the main connection points are secured and tight. Then apply a soap and water mixture to the hose and turn on the propane tank; if the hose releases bubbles, turn the gas off and do not use the grill. If there are no bubbles, grilling may commence. Be sure to open the lid when turning the propane tank on, this will prevent gas from becoming trapped and causing serious injuries. If you smell gas at any point, turn the grill and gas tank off then move away from the grill. After grilling, turn off the propane then store the grill outside and a safe distance away from your house.
While some of these safety tips might seem simple and elementary, they must not be overlooked. Take the necessary steps to ensure your cookout is safe this summer or hire a local professional barbecue catering company such as Smoke Bandit Barbecue, LLC located in Indianapolis, Indiana if you want to take all the risk out of the equation.