Planning to use the grill this holiday weekend? For many, it’s the kickoff to a long and happy season of outdoor cooking. But before you begin – did you know that the top cause of grill fires is failure to thoroughly clean your grill? That’s not a task to shortchange! Besides thoroughly cleaning your grill, take a few minutes to review some basic safety information with your family to prevent any problems. The National Fire Protections Association (NFPA) says that, “Each year an average of 8,900 home fires are caused by grilling, and close to half of all injuries involving grills are due to thermal burns. While nearly half of the people who grill do it year-round, July is the peak month for grill fires followed by May, June and August.”
According to NFPA, the main causes of gas grill fires are:
Failure to clean the grill – 19%
Grill too close to something that could catch fire – 17%
Leaks or breaks – 11%
ESPN Sportscenter anchor Hannah Storm relates her survival experience after an explosive fireball engulfed her when trying to reignite her grill. She faults herself for not having taken the time to review safety procedures – a terrible price to pay.
Take the time to clean your grill properly and review some basic equipment and safety guidelines. In this video, NFPA reviews some fire prevention basics:
These fire marshals offer detailed barbecue cleaning and safety tips
While cooking out is arguable the most basic American rite of summer, it can be hazardous to your health and safety. Fires caused by grilling accidents cause about $70 million in damages each year nationwide and injure more than 7,000. How can you prevent you and your family becoming one of those statistics?
Good Morning America featured an eye-opening video and ten handy barbecue tips to help keep you and your family safe this summer – and still enjoying eating outside!
The most important thing to remember is to keep your grill well away from other structures, such as your house or garage, that could ignite. Even though it’s convenient to be able to grill for your party guests right there on your deck or patio, it’s not a good idea. If there are going to be kids at your cookout, consider drawing a 10 foot circle in chalk around the grill and making it a strict no go zone for anyone under 12.
It’s smart to make sure your grill is always in the best possible shape. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has a safety checklist for all grill owners, gas or charcoal, to make sure your grill isn’t posing any hidden dangers. The National Fire Protection Agency has two helpful, short videos on gas grill safety.
Once you’re sure your grill is in good working order and safely located away from the house, it’s time to think about what to serve. Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot, and never use the same plate for raw and cooked meats as the US Health Department reminds us in this list of grilling food safety recommendations. Consider grilling more fruits and vegetables and less meats, because while you don’t have to give up burgers altogether, charred meat can be hazardous to your health. Precooking slightly can help, as can marinating, a tip that’s not only safer, but delicious.
In case you’re not scared enough already, here’s a safety tip you probably haven’t heard before. A Rhode Island hospital admitted six people last March with stomach perforations caused by wire brush bristles that were used to clean a gas grill. But don’t worry too much: this one is simple to fix. After you’ve scrubbed the grill clean with that wire brush, wipe it down again with a sponge, just to make sure.