For many, May is the official start of summertime festivities and the time when families everywhere start gearing up for cookouts. June and July are peak months for grill fires. So before firing up the grills, everyone should observe a few simple precautions to ensure that backyard barbecue bashes don’t go up in flames.
According to statistics, casual cookouts can turn dangerous and sometimes deadly if safety is ignored. Every year, dozens of fire-related events are reported throughout the summer because of simple carelessness. Keeping safety basics top of mind can help prevent losses from occurring and help you avoid needless hassle and property damage and in some situations… injury to you or your loved ones.
- Keep barbecue grills on a level surface away from the house, garage and, most importantly, children and pets. When grilling on your patio, make sure that all furniture and accessories are far from the grill. On balconies, it is always safer to move festivities to available lawn space. Never grill inside the home or garage, even if it is raining.
- For gas grills, always store gas cylinders outside and away from your house, and be sure the valves are turned off when not in use. Check the tubes regularly for cracking, brittleness, and leaks in the connections. To determine if there is a leak, simply pour soapy water over the line with the gas valve turned open. If gas were escaping, bubbles would appear. Should you detect a leak, immediately turn off the gas, and don’t use the grill until the leak is repaired.
- Your grill will be generating high temperatures, so keep it covered whenever possible. Keep lighted cigarettes, matches, and open flames away from the grill, and move gas hoses as far away as possible from hot surfaces and grease. Use a can to catch excess grease.
- Make certain your grill is kept at least 2-3 feet away from wood or vinyl siding. Placing the grill too close to your home, especially one with vinyl siding, can result in melting or burning, or even a fire. Also, keep in mind that while vinyl siding and composite decking have a higher “burn point” than wood, it’s also easier for these materials to melt and discolor which can result in a costly claim for property damage.
- For charcoal grills, use only starter fluids designed for your grill and never use gasoline. Limit the amount of fluid used. If the fire is too low, use dry kindling and add more charcoal, if necessary. To avoid a flash fire, never add more liquid fuel to a lighted grill.
- Keep a fire extinguisher accessible, and never leave a grill unattended once it has been lit. If an extinguisher isn’t available, consider keeping a bucket of sand or a garden hose nearby.
- Never allow burned coals to smolder in any container on a wooden deck, and make sure to soak your coals before disposing of them by wrapping them in heavy-duty aluminum foil and putting them in a non-combustible container away from the house.
These precautions should be used for all outdoor cooking devices and especially propane turkey fryers and outdoor fire pits. Above all, remember that whatever you’re cooking with outdoors will remain hot for hours and those wooden surfaces, such as decks, can present fire hazards… so never place cooking devices directly upon them. Remember that the party isn’t over until the last flame has been extinguished.