Salisbury Fire Department

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Grilling Safety
Sunday, May 25, 2014

It’s that time of year!! Folks from all walks of life will begin utilizing grills to enjoy their meals. Fire in the grill, under hot dogs and burgers, is a welcome sight at the family cookout. But fire anywhere else can make your summer kick-off barbecue memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Tips for Safe Grilling

Pick a safe grilling area Place your grill on a flat, level surface so it won’t tip over. Keep it away from overhangs, fences, deck railings and shrubbery that could be ignited by a sudden flare-up or flying spark. 

Position the grill in a well-ventilated location. Never barbecue inside homes, tents or vehicles. Grilling using charcoal or propane inside can kill you. It gives off carbon monoxide, which has no odor.

Keep children and pets away from the grill when it’s in use.

Charcoal grills

Never use gasoline or kerosene to light a charcoal fire. Both can cause an explosion. If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire. Never add lighter fluid directly to hot coals to get a sluggish fire going again. The flame could travel up the stream of fluid and burn you.

Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.

Do not close the lid until you are ready to cook. Doing so might put out the fire or cause a rush of flame when the lid is removed. Closing the lid prematurely also can prevent charcoal lighter fluid from completely burning away, giving foods a strange taste.

Coals are HOT — they can reach up to 1000°F. Use insulated, flame-retardant mitts when cooking or handling any part of the grill. Also, use long-handled barbecue tongs and utensils for safe handling of food and coals. When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container. Place the cover on the grill, close the vents and allow the coals to burn out completely. Let the ashes cool for at least 48 hours and then dispose of them in a non-combustible container. If you must dispose of coals before they’ve completely cooled, remove them individually with long-handled tongs and carefully bury them in a can of sand or in a bucket of water. Never pour the hot coals into a pail of water, or vice versa. Steam from the briquets may burn you.

Propane grills

Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department. If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.

Facts & figures from the NFPA

Gas grills constitute a higher risk, having been involved in an annual average of 7,200 home fires in 2007-2011, while charcoal or other solid-fueled grills were involved in an annual average of 1,400 home fires. In 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 8,800 home and outside fires. These 8,800 fires caused an annual average of 10 civilian deaths, 140 civilian injuries and $96 million in direct property damage.

More than one-quarter (27%) of the home structure fires involving grills started on a courtyard, terrace or patio, 29% started on an exterior balcony or open porch, and 6% started in the kitchen. In almost half (43%) of the home outdoor fires in which grills were involved, half (51%) of the outside gas grills, and 29% of gas grill structure fires, the fire started when a flammable or combustible gas or liquid caught fire.


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