Grilling Safety Tips

Courtesy of Larry Merritt Assistant Director, New Affairs Chicago Fire Department

Summer is finally here and if you are like me, you are looking forward to grilled food and fun with family, neighbors, and friends. I just recently bought a new smoker and I gave it one test run with some wings that turned out great. I look forward to smoking and grilling more over the summer and wanted to remind everyone with some things to remember when grilling.

Did you know that on average, 9,600 home fires are started by grill each ear or that these fires resulted in 16,600 people go to the ER per year because of injuries involving grills, including 8,200 thermal burns? To help keep everyone safe, below are tips from the National Fire Protection Association.

General grilling tips:

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors and never on porches
  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.

Before you use your propane grill:

  • Check the major connection points between the gas (propane) tank hose and the regulator and cylinder, and where the hose connects to the burners. Tighten if loose.
  • Check the gas (propane) tank hose for the potential (gas) leaks. To do that, apply a light soap and water solution to the hose using a brush or spray bottle. Turn the propane tank on. If there is a gas leak, the propane will release bubbles around the hose (big enough to see). If there are no bubbles, your grill is safe to use. If there are bubbles, turn off the tank and check connections, then have your grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak doesn’t stop, call the fire department immediately.
  • When your propane grill is on, as you are cooking, if you smell gas, turn off the gas tank and burners. If the leak stops immediately, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the smell continues, move away from the grill and call the fire department immediately. Do not move the grill.

Charcoal grill safety tips:

  • There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.
  • If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire. – Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources. There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire.
  • Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
  • When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

Enjoy and safe and fun summer smoking and grilling!

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