Someone hasn’t told Mother Nature that it’s not summer yet!   The first official day of summer is June 21st!  With the blazing hot days we have already experienced, there’s no telling how hot this summer is going to be.  One of the things that millions of Americans enjoy doing during warm (hot) weather is firing up the barbecue grill.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urges consumers to check their grills and “fire it up safely” to prevent fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.  Before lighting a grill, do a safety check. 

  • First of all, check to be sure that your grill has not been recalled.  If it has been, contact the manufacturer and don’t use it until you get it repaired or replaced.
  • Inspect the hoses on a gas grill for cracking, brittleness, holes and leaks.  Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing and that all connections are secure.  Replace them if necessary.
  • Check for propane gas leaks.  Open the gas supply valve fully and apply a soapy solution with a brush at the connection point.  If bubbles appear, there is a leak.  Try tightening the tank connection.  If that doesn’t stop the leak, close the gas valve and ask a qualified professional to repair it.
  • Be sure the grill is clean.  By regularly cleaning the grill and grease trap, the risk of flare-ups and grease fires will be reduced. 

Now that you have checked the grill, be sure to operate it as safely as possible.  Here are some tips:

  • Place the grill on a level surface away from yard games and other foot traffic.
  • Cook outside only. 
  • Never leave a grill unattended. 
  • Keep children and pets away from the cooking area.
  • The outside surface of a grill can get hot and burn when touched.
  • Check the grill legs for stability.
  • Keep a garden hose nearby for use in the yard, in case of fire.
  • If a flare-up happens, adjust the controls on the gas grill or spread out the coals on a charcoal grill to lower the temperature.  If a grease fire occurs, turn off the gas grill and use baking soda or a kitchen fire extinguisher to put out the fire.
  • Don’t wear loose clothing.
  • Use long utensils.
  • Use gloves or mitts to protect hands.
  • Be sure the grill is completely cool before anyone gets near it after you have finished cooking. 

According to the National Fire Protection Association, June and July are peak months for grill fires.   Fire departments responded to fires started in hibachis, grills, or barbecues,  resulting in an annual average of 3,200 structure fires and 4,500 outside fires. These 7,700 fires caused an annual average of 13 civilian deaths (to the nearest ten), 120 civilian injuries and $70 million in direct property damage.   More than one-quarter (29%) of the home structure fires involving grills started on a courtyard, terrace or patio, 28% started on an exterior balcony or open porch, and 7% started in the kitchen.  Flammable or combustible gas or liquid was the item first ignited in half of home outdoor grill fires. In 49% of the home outdoor fires in which grills were involved, 56% of the outside gas grills, and 39% of gas grill structure fires, the fire started when a flammable or combustible gas or liquid caught fire. 

Anytime you are dealing with fire, there may be a risk.  Take precautions during grilling season.  Have a plan; be organized.  Get out those ribs, burgers, veggies, and other tasty treats and enjoy!  Just be careful.