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7 Tips For Safe Grilling This Summer


Americans enjoy more than three billion barbecues each year. That’s not surprising – after all, what better way is there to celebrate the approaching summer season?

However, grilling might be riskier than you think. According to the National Fire Protection Association, approximately 8,800 home fires are caused by grilling every year. In 2012 alone, 16,900 patients went to emergency rooms because of injuries involving grills.

Grill fires are no laughing matter. They’re a threat to your safety, and if a grill fire turns into a full-blown house fire, they’re a threat to your financial well-being too. It can be expensive to replace your belongings and repair your home from fire damage, even with the help of homeowners insurance.

Before you fire up the grill, check out these tips to stay safe while cooking up some tasty meals.

1. Know that gas grills and grills that use charcoal or solid fuel each have their own sets of risks.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2007 and 2011, four out of five grills involved in home fires were fueled by gas. The rest used charcoal or another solid fuel.

It’s important to distinguish the risks involved with each type of grill because the leading factors contributing to grill fires vary depending on the type of grill.

The leading cause of gas grill fires from 2007-2011 was a leak or break in the gas line. For charcoal/solid fuel grills, the leading cause was something that could burn being too close to the grill.

Know which type of grill you have and what you can do to reduce the common fire starters. Here’s more on how to prepare your grills before your first summer cookout.

2. Never leave the grill unattended while it’s in use.

This sounds obvious, but we often get busy and forget to mind the grill. Make sure to keep children and pets away from the grilling area, too – for both your safety and theirs.

3. Don your best “kiss the cook” apron and mitts.

Add an extra layer of protection with a heavy-duty apron and long-sleeved, insulated grill mitts. Don’t wear clothing with any hanging or loose elements that can catch fire.

4. Take the time to clean the grill.

Remove bits of char and leftover food that have built up and stuck to the grill – these can catch fire easily. Take a grill brush to the grates before or after cooking every time you use the grill, and give it an occasional deep clean. Can’t find a grill brush? A ball of aluminum foil will work just fine for scrubbing, too.

5. Make sure you’re only using propane and charcoal BBQ grills outdoors.

Using grills in unventilated areas may lead to not only increased fire risk, but also risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you live in an apartment, keep in mind that some states prohibit the use of most grills on apartment patios and balconies. Check your state’s fire code to see what’s allowed before you start grilling.

6. Select the grill location carefully.

Operate your grill on a flat surface and position it at least 10 feet away from your home. Keep the grill away from deck railings and out from under any eaves or overhanging branches.

7. Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

Have a fire extinguisher on hand in case of a fire, but don’t keep it too close to the grill. If you need to use the extinguisher, remember to PASS: pull, aim, squeeze and sweep.

Check out these resources for more grilling safety tips:

The National Fire Protection Association

The Consumer Product Safety Commission

The Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association

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