Memorial Day weekend is coming up and for many of us in Central Pennsylvania that means reflecting on the sacrifice and service of our military men and women. It also means gathering with friends and family and firing up the grill. Before you start slinging brats and burgers though, make sure you’ve accounted for the safety of your property, your guests, and yourself by following these grilling safety tips. .
According to the Mid-Atlantic Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (MAHPBA), three out of four households in the United States own a barbeque grill. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that an average of 10,200 home fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues occur every year, and July is the peak month for fires caused by grills. Gas grills contribute 8,700 home fires per year. Charcoal and other solid-fueled grills follow, with 1,100 home fires per year.
From making a quick dinner to barbecuing a feast for family and friends, when lighting a charcoal or gas grill, it’s important to remember that a savory barbeque is a safe barbeque. Make safety a priority so that your weekend doesn’t go up in flames:
Before You Get Started
Choose a safe location for your grill. Whether a gas or propane grill, it’s a good rule of thumb to place your grill at least 10 feet, if not more, from any building. Be mindful that you’re not placing it underneath wooden overhangs, since flames could flare up and start the structure on fire.
Protect yourself. If you’re in charge of the grill, wear a heavy apron and oven mitts and use long-handled utensils to keep your hands and arms safe when dealing with heat and flames. Avoid baggy clothes that can dangle over the grill and catch fire.
Grilling Safety Tips
Be mindful around the grill. Keep children and pets away from the grill, and don’t leave your grill unattended. Designate the grilling area a “No Play Zone”. That means reminding kids and pets to stay well away from the grill and keeping an eye on things at all times. Remember that fires can double in size every minute, and an unattended grill runs the risk of starting a fire that becomes unmanageable.
Never use gasoline, alcohol or kerosene to start your coals. When using charcoal, the most important safety tip to remember is to use only charcoal starter fluid – and only the minimum amount of lighter fluid you need. The starter fluid will release carbon monoxide as it burns, which is dangerous to inhale in large quantities.
Check for leaks. If you’re using a gas grill, make sure you check the connection between the propane tank and the fuel line and ensure there isn’t a leak. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department. If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.
Start a gas grill with the lid open. If you have a gas grill, turning the gas on while the lid is closed can be extremely dangerous. Gas can build up under the lid and you may have a fire ball exploding in your face when you light up the grill.
Don’t overload the grill with food. This especially applies to fatty meats, since fat drips off and if too much drips on the flames at once, it could cause a flare-up that might catch nearby things on fire.
Wait to re-light if the flame goes out. If the flame goes out, turn off the grill and the gas and wait at least five minutes before you re-light it. On a similar note, don’t add lighter fluid once your coals are on fire, glowing or smoldering.
Be prepared to put out a fire. Remember that you shouldn’t put out a grease fire with water. Water and oil don’t mix, and if you douse a grease fire with water, it can spread flaming oil everywhere. Baking soda is a better option for grease fires, and, of course, having a fire extinguisher on standby is always a smart idea. If the grill catches fire, put the lid on or shut off the gas, if you can get close enough without getting burned. Then get completely away from the grill. Call 911 right away if you’re struggling to control the fire.
When the Cooking is Done
Properly turn the grill off. Close the grill lid and any vents tightly. Don’t move the grill or remove the coals until they’ve cooled off. If you have a gas grill, make sure to close the valve tightly on the gas cylinder after grilling.
Soak the coals with water. For charcoal grills, soak the coals with water to ensure they’re cool and inactive, so there’s no chance they’ll be able to light up again. Let the coals cool off before disposing them in a metal container.
Clean the grill. Grease and fat can quickly buildup on your grill, and there’s nothing like dripping grease to get a fire to flare up unexpectedly. Brush the grill and scrub tray below the grill to keep it safe, clean and ready to go for the next barbeque.
Fire Damage Restoration
Besides being life-threatening, fire and smoke damage can be a disaster not easily recovered from without professional help. There are many steps to grilling safely, but accidents can still happen. When they do, it is imperative to call an experienced fire and smoke damage restoration company as soon as possible. The professionals at Xtreme Home Improvement are experts in all aspects of fire damage recovery. We are available around the clock and we promise to arrive right away to restore the damage to all building materials and contents. Make sure you follow these tips to ensure a memorably pleasant weekend. The entire staff at Xtreme Home Improvement would like to wish everyone a wonderful Memorial Day and a happy grilling season!