Memorial Day Weekend is here, which means grilling season has begun.
Grilling is undoubtedly one of the best parts of summer. But throw in drinking and the distractions of family and holiday events and it can become a recipe for disaster. Every year, grills are the source of 10,600 home fires, sending 19,700 people to the emergency room, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Whenever you’re dealing with anything fire-related, you should use extra caution. And don’t think you can let your guard down just because you’re outside your house. We hope the below safety tips ensure that you have fun while grilling without any deadly mishaps or surprises.
BEFORE You Start Grilling
- Grill outside. Some people assume it is OK to grill in their house or garage. It isn’t. Not only does this increase the fire hazard, but grilling can release carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas that is toxic.
- Move it away from the house. Your grill should be at least 10 feet away from your house and any other building or structure, like a garage or shed. The farther away you are, the safer you are. If you’re on a deck, make sure the railing is far enough away. Keep it away from any bushes or trees. Don’t grill under a tree for shade. Also, make sure you have cleared the area of any decorations like umbrellas and hanging baskets. Bottom line: if it’s flammable, keep it away from the grill. Have children and pets play away from the grill.
- Clean it. The buildup of grease and fat adds more fuel than needed to the fire. You are especially at risk of a flare up when there is too much grease. Regular cleaning is ideal.
- Check for gas leaks. One trick for doing this is mixing some dish soap and water and wiping it over the hose and connections. Turn the gas on and watch the soap. If the bubbles get bigger, you have a leak somewhere or you need to tighten your connections.
- Have the fire extinguisher out. If you don’t have one buy one. Make sure it is close at hand. And learn how to use it BEFORE you have to use it.
WHILE You Are Grilling
- Be ready to put out fires. Having a spray bottle nearby might help. However, DON’T use water to put out grease fires, it could make the grease splash, causing the fire to expand. Vaporized grease particles could spread the fire even farther. For grease fires, use baking soda.
- Open the lid before turning it on. Keeping the lid closed could lead to a buildup of gas that could cause a fireball.
- Make sure the grill isn’t left unattended. Next time you are tempted to step away for just one minute, think about this: fires double in size every minute. Do all the food prep work beforehand so you can stay at the grill. You can take a break when everything’s done.
- Limit the amount of food on the grill. Putting too much on can create an added risk of flare-ups from dripping fat.
- Turn it off. When you’re done cooking, it can be easy to forget to do this vitally important task, especially when you are eager to start eating. Make sure everything is switched off before you sit down to enjoy your meal.
Keeping all of this in mind may be a bit tedious, but think about the added peace of mind it will give you when you’re grilling.
From all of us at the Insurance Center, we wish you a happy – and safe – Memorial Day.
(Sources: ABC News, Taste of Home, Smart911, and the National Fire Protection Association.)