It’s National Barbecue Month! Stay safe this month and all summer long with the help of these top outdoor grilling safety tips!
May is National Barbecue Month, which means it’s time to fire up the grill! Unfortunately, with a homemade char-grilled burger also comes danger. The National Fire Protection Association reports that approximately 8,900 home fires are caused by grills each year, and on average, more than 19,000 people end up in the emergency room each year with grill-related injuries.
Stay safe this month and all summer long with the help of these top outdoor grilling safety tips!
Chose a safe location for your grill
When it comes to grilling, the easiest way to prevent a home fire is to always grill outside. (Never use a charcoal or propane grill inside your home or in a house garage). Position the grill at least 10 feet away from a building or deck railings, and never put it under overhanging tree branches.
Also, keep it on a level, stable surface, and once you’ve started the grill, don’t move it until it’s fully cooled. That means it should stay put until the gas is off or the charcoal briquettes are completely extinguished.
Give your grill a thorough cleaning
You might be surprised what you find in your grill after the long winter months. Nests, rodent droppings, even spiderwebs can cause a fire, so before you even start your grill, inspect it. Then give your grill a thorough cleaning, inside and out. This includes cleaning all parts of the grill – the grates, heat deflectors, burners, cook box, and cover. Also, don’t forget the outside of the grill.
Every time you use the grill, clean off the grates while they are hot. If you use the grill at least once a week, give it a deep cleaning at least once every two months.
Beware of gas leaks
Anytime you smell gas, turn off the valve on the tank, have everyone evacuate the home, and move at least 350 feet away. Do not use any electronics, including your cell phone, until you and your family are safe. Then call 9-1-1.
If you don’t smell gas but want to ensure your propane tank is secure, first – check the line for signs of cracks, punctures, and damage. Then, spread a soapy water solution along the hose and turn on the gas. If bubbles form along the line or by the cylinder valve and outlet connection, there is a leak. Move 350 feet away and call 9-1-1.
Know how to light your grill
Charcoal starter fluids should only be used to start charcoal grills, and it needs to soak into the coals for about a half an hour. Never add it to the coals once they have been lit. Also, if your coals are pre-treated, don’t use fluid. Once the coals turn a grayish-white, you can start grilling.
When using a propane grill, don’t automatically relight the burner if it goes out. Instead, turn off the gas and wait at least five minutes. This will allow the gas time to dissipate.
Know how to put out a grill fire
Keep a fire extinguisher or a bucket of sand nearby to put out any grill fires. Baking soda can also be used on small grill flare ups. Never pour water on a grease fire as this will only make it worse. However, a garden hose can be used to douse burning embers if they spill from a charcoal grill.
If you’re using a gas grill, then prevent the spread of a fire by turning off the tank, shutting the grill’s hood, and waiting for the fire to die out.
That may sound easy enough, but this is one of the most important grilling safety tips. If you use a grill brush to clean the grates before grilling, then you need to make certain that none of the wire bristles fall off and get into your food. We recommend using a bristle-free brush and scraper.
Never leave a grill unattended and create a perimeter of at least three feet around your hot grill. No children or pets should enter this area and keep it free of fire hazards, including oven mitts, loose clothing, and even apron strings.
Extinguish your grill correctly
When using a charcoal grill, close the vents and lower the lid when finished to starve the fire of oxygen and allow the charcoal to go out naturally. Coals can be disposed of (ideally in a metal container) after 48 hours. Do not pour water onto hot coals. You may be burned by the hot steam, and the cold water can damage the grill.
With a gas grill, make sure all burners are fully off, and close the valve on the propane tank or turn off the gas supply.
Save your grill from the elements
How you store your grill is as important as how you use it. For a gas grill, use a rip-proof, water- and UV-resistant cover, which will help prolong the life of the grill. Store it in a cool, dry place, and if it’s outside, you can keep the propane tank connected as long as the grill doesn’t receive direct sunlight. If your grill is headed indoors, disconnect the propane tank and leave it outside, out of direct sunlight.
Check your grill for recalls
No one wants a home fire, and no one wants a friend or loved one hurt from a grill malfunction. Check to make sure your grill and any of its parts weren’t recalled over the winter, and if they were, get the grill serviced to address the issue.
Now fire up the grill, and enjoy all summer has to offer!
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