Ten Grilling Safety Tips
With summer right around the corner, many of us are dusting off our barbecue grills and stocking up on warm-weather provisions. Before you prepare to light the grill, it's important to go through a few safety and maintenance checks. Approximately 7,900 home fires occur each year involving grills, hibachis, and barbecues, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Whether you enjoy barbecuing year-round or for only a few months of the year, these safety tips may help you experience an accident-free grilling season – so your meals can be memorable for all the right reasons!
Charcoal releases carbon monoxide (CO) when it is burned. Nearly 20 deaths result each year from inhaling CO fumes due to charcoal burned indoors or in poorly ventilated areas. Following these safety tips may help you reduce the risk of CO poisoning and other grilling accidents.
1. Always Use Your Grill Outside
Never burn charcoal inside of a house, tent, camper, or vehicle – even if there is ventilation. Position the grill away from any buildings, structures, overhanging branches, or dry leaves and shrubbery to avoid fire hazards.
2. Use the Proper Starter Fluid
Only use starter fluid that is intended to light a charcoal grill – never use gasoline, kerosene, or other combustible liquids. Form the charcoal briquettes into a pyramid and squirt with starter fluid. Immediately reseal the container, placing it away from the grill and other heat sources. Wait until the fluid has soaked in completely before lighting the coals to avoid a flame flare-up. Do not add starter fluid to an open flame.
3. Keep the Vents Open and Children Away
Once the grill is lit, leave it uncovered until you are ready to cook. Keep the grill vents open while cooking to give the charcoal the oxygen it needs to burn. Establish a "grill safety zone" for adults only, keeping any children or pets a safe distance away.
4. Let the Coals Cool Completely
When you've finished cooking, allow the coals and ashes to cool completely before disposing of them. Although the coals can be soaked in water to hasten the cooling process, be careful to avoid splatters and hot steam. Discard the cooled coals and ashes in a non-combustible metal container.
5. Never Store Freshly Used Charcoal
Even if the flame has been extinguished, charcoal will continue to produce CO fumes until it has cooled completely. Therefore, do not move your grill indoors with freshly used coals.
Liquid petroleum (LP) gas or propane is used in gas grills. LP is highly flammable; about 30 people are injured each year in gas grill fires or explosions. To help reduce the risk of potential accidents, get in the habit of practicing these safety tips on a regular basis.
6. Check All Tubes and Hoses
Many gas grill accidents occur when people first use a grill that has been in storage, or just after the gas container has been refilled. Check all tubes, hoses, and valves for cracks or leaks. You can do so by applying soapy water onto the tube to check for air bubbles, which would indicate a leak. If you discover a leak, have the grill serviced by a professional before using it. If you find a leak while the gas tank is on, turn off the gas tank and grill, and call your local fire department immediately.
7. Position the Grill Away from Structures
Never use a gas grill indoors, or in a garage, carport, or porch. Position your grill at least ten feet away from your house, as well as any surrounding trees or overhanging branches. Be sure that the grill is placed on a stable surface, so it will not tip over.
8. Use Caution with Propane Gas Containers
Be extremely careful when connecting and disconnecting the LP gas container. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for handling propane cylinders. When lighting the grill, keep the lid open to avoid a "flash off" from gas accumulation. Never use a propane cylinder that shows signs of rust, corrosion, dents, or other damage.
9. Wear Appropriate Clothing
Avoid wearing clothing that has long shirt tails, strings, or hanging material that can easily catch on fire. Protect yourself by wearing a heavy-duty apron and using flame-retardant grill gloves or oven mitts. Use long-handled utensils to avoid leaning over the grill while you're cooking. When the grill is on, never leave it unsupervised.
10. Store Propane Carefully
Store LP gas containers in an upright position, secured to something sturdy to prevent them from falling over. Do not keep a gas container in a hot car or trunk as the heat can increase the gas pressure and allow the gas to escape.
With Americans grilling more and more each year, it's important to use common sense and take a few precautions to help make grilling both fun and safe.
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