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15 Tips for Summer Safety Around the Home BBQ

It’s that time of year again to break out the lures and the skewers. Summer is here, and with it, endless summer nights of grilling with friends and family. Thinking about safety around the home BBQ usually equates to making sure the grill isn’t near anything that could easily catch on fire and away, or at least monitored, if kids are playing. But home BBQ safety doesn’t end there. Here are a few helpful tips that, as a fire protection company, we want to share to keep you safe this summer before, during, and after using the grill.

Before

  1. It may be common sense, but survey the area and make sure you know where any kids are. It will help give you a good idea where the best place is to put the grill to be out of the way.
  2. Keep grills outdoors in a stable area that has good ventilation. This means completely outdoors, not under overhangs such as a deck or awning. A few drips of grease from that perfect burger can send flames sky high.
  3. For gas: Check connection points to make sure the propane tank is attached properly and hoses are tightened. If it’s been a while since you’ve grilled, you can check the line for a leak or cracked hose similar to checking a bike inner tube. Apply a light mixture of soap and water to the hose and open the tank. If bubbles continually form, there is a leak and the hose should not be used.
  4. For Charcoal: The best and most natural way to get your coals hot is to use a charcoal grill chimney starter. Be sure to set the correct amount of coals on top. Overloading the chimney will cause a problem later on if you have to get rid of an excess of hot coals. Place newspaper or other tinder under the chimney inside the grill and light with a long match. When coals are ready to transfer to the grill, pour them at a gentle angle facing away from yourself and anybody around the grill. A sudden flip can send coals flying.
  5. If you’re starting a grill using lighter fluid, know that there is a better way (read above). Most fire related incidents occur with charcoal grill and lighter fluid. After soaking the coals, allow some time for the vapors to clear before lighting the coals. Be sure not to spill lighter fluid and keep the container at a safe distance while the grill is in use. You should never add fluid after the coals are lit.

During

  1. A professional griller never leaves their grill unattended for food and for safety’s sake.
  2. If you smell gas, move away from the grill and contact your local fire department. Never attempt to turn the gas off if there is a lit flame.
  3. Do not overload your grill, especially if you are cooking meats with high fat content. The grease can quickly overflow and escalate the fire.
  4. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby and a spray bottle with water. The spray bottle is a way to control any flames while not hurting the food.
  5. Keep your flame under control. One way to do this is be sure your coals are spread evenly or your grid is raised to a decent height above the flame.

After

  1. Do not move a hot grill. Let it sit and cool off before attempting to cover it or put it away.
  2. Scrape off any remaining build up of grease and fat. It’s better to do this while the grill is still warm. This way it will prevent potentially flammable material from collecting.
  3. Always shut off the valve to the propane tank when not in use.
  4. Let coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.
  5. Clean and properly maintain your BBQ according to the user manual. Routine maintenance will help you become familiar with your grill as well as keeping it in top working order.

The avid BBQ’er knows it takes time to perfect and personalize a grilling technique. For first time grillers, know that practice makes perfect and you’ll become a grill master over time. Grilling is an art and when you’re working with an open flame, safety comes first. Your first couple of times may not turn out quite as planned, but at least you’ll be able to order a pizza as a backup instead of winding up in a hospital, or worse.

For more information and updated information, visit our Fire and Life Safety America Blog!

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