Tips for safe grilling

One of the most popular ways of cooking food is outdoor grilling, but it can also be one of the most dangerous. According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. Fire Departments responded to an average 8,900 home fires involving outdoor cooking appliances.
These fires caused an annual average of 10 deaths and 160 reported injuries. An additional 16,600 patients had emergency room visits because of injuries involving grills. Nearly half were thermal burns and roughly one third of those were children under the age of five which they received from touching the grill when it was hot. Adults receive most burns when starting the grill.
Gas grills tend to cause more fires than charcoal grills. One in five gas grill fires started due to a break or leak in the fuel line. Charcoal grills tend to start fires because something combustible is to close. To keep your home and Family safe this summer, follow these simple tips for a carefree cook out.
Gas and charcoal grills have different inherent dangers, but regardless of which grill you use, they should never be used indoors or in an enclosed space. Not only is this a fire hazard, but they also release toxic gases that could cause asphyxiation.
Place the grill well away from your home and deck rails. At least 10 feet is a good start. Watch what’s over the top of your grill as well. Keep it out from under the eaves of your home and low overhanging tree branches.
Keep the grill clean and remove the grease and fat build-up from the racks and grease trays. Keep children and pets away from the grill while it’s hot. A good way to do this is to never leave your grill unattended.
Because gas grills cause more fires than charcoal, lets focus on safe use practices with these types first. The first tip is to check for leaks. This can be done a couple different ways. After turning on the gas, just smell. If you smell gas, that’s a good sign you might have a leak. You can also spray a solution of water and detergent on all connections.
If you see bubbles, it’s definite you have a leak. Turn the cylinder off and make sure your connections are tight. If you still have leaks, have it serviced by a professional before using it again. Never continue cooking with a gas leak and think, “I’ll get it fixed tomorrow.” That may be the last time you get to use it.
If the leak does not stop when you turn the cylinder off or you develop a leak and smell gas while cooking, get away from the grill and call the fire department.
Charcoal grills have caused less fires, but that does not make them hazard free. When starting your charcoal with starter fluid, use only an approved lighter fluid. Never add more fluid while the coals are hot and never use any other type of flammable liquid.
You can also try a chimney starter. These devices allow you to use newspaper instead of fluid to start the coals. When you are finished with your grilling, let the coals cool completely before disposing them.
With the popularity of outdoor cooking rising you have a big responsibility to keep your homes, your Family and especially your children safe from the grill. For additional fire safety information on grilling or other topics, contact the Fort Bragg Fire and Emergency Services Fire Prevention Office at 432-6727.