Residential fires in America caused 14,700 injuries, 2,470 deaths and $12.4 billion in damages in 2012. While statistically smaller by comparison, grill fires tallied 140 injuries, 10 deaths and $96 million in property damage annually from 2007 to 2011, according to reports from the National Fire Protection Association.
Grills, hibachis and barbecues on residential properties continue to be a high fire risk, according to the United States Fire Administration, and the agency urges Americans to be especially mindful now during the grilling season.
So take a second to review this list of precautions and prevent a grill or propane fire from ruining your summer fun:
Rules of Engagement
- Start smartby following all manufacturer’s instructions and warnings when assembling and/or operating your grill.
- Only grill outside in open areas – not in a garage; under eaves or other enclosures; or near siding, deck railings or anything flammable.
- Set up your grillaway from playing fields, lawn games or any other high-traffic areas.
It’s Show Time!
- Keep the lid openwhen lighting a propane grill to prevent an explosion from gas buildup. Turn off and wait at least 10 minutes to relight if the burners blow out.
- Stay closeto your grill when in use, and keep children clear with a three-foot “kid-free zone.”
- Use long-handled toolsto prevent burns, and tuck in loose clothing.
- Douse flare-ups with sprits of water on a charcoal grill, but not on a gas grill. For a gas grill, turn the gas down or off.
- Have baking soda on hand to control a more serious grease fire, but know where a fire extinguisher is, just in case.
- When done cooking, shut off the gas supply, then turn the burners to “off.” (By the way, do you know how long certain foods should cook? Download these tips on grilling times and food temperatures.)
Keeping It All Together!
- Mechanical failure is the leading cause of grill fires. So check your grill and propane tank regularly for wear, particularly for cracked hoses, broken fittings, dents and other corrosion.
- Remove grease or fat buildup from trays below the grill regularly. (See these easy grilling cleanup tips.)
- Rotten egg, skunk or dead animal smells can mean propane is leaking; turn off the supply valve if you can do so safely, tell everyone to leave the area and call the fire department.
- Transport propane cylinders securely and upright in a well-ventilated area of your vehicle, and never leave a bottle inside the car on a hot day.
- Never store propane indoors or in an enclosed area such as a basement, garage, shed or tent.