Summer is synonymous with grilling, and nearly 60% of all grill fires happen from late spring (May) through late summer (August).
Grill-related fires damage approximately 9,200 homes per year on average, and when your house catches fire, it will sustain four principal types of damage:
- Fire Damage
- Smoke Damage
- Structural Damage and
- Water Damage
With this in mind, the Alpharetta Water Damage Restoration experts compiled the following grilling safety tips to help you avoid turning your family cookout into a summertime catastrophe.
Charcoal and Propane Grill Safety
Grilling on either gas or charcoal grills is strictly an outside activity. And for each, getting them fired up is a bit different. The following will help you safely get the fire started:
How to Start the Coals – There are a variety of ways to get charcoal ready for use.
- When you use lighter fluid or starter fluid, do not use other flammable liquids or objects. Charcoal starter fluid is specifically for this purpose.
- Keep charcoal starter fluid out of the reach of children and far away from any heat source.
- You can dispense with the starter fluid by using a charcoal chimney starter. These allow you to start the charcoal with paper as the fuel.
- When using an electric charcoal starter, use an extension cord to get the proper distance from your home (use an extension cord rated for outdoor use).
How to Dispose of the Coals – The last thing you want to do is set the trash on fire. Before throwing those coals away, consider the following:
- Allow the coals to completely cool down before disposing of them in a metal container.
- Soak the coals with water. While this can be a bit messy, it is a faster way of cooling the coals before their disposal.
Propane (gas) Grills:
Read the Instructions – Every new gas grill should come with a set of instructions. Reading them will help you correctly operate the grill and get your food cooked right.
Tank Use and Storage – The gas tank in use should fit correctly and securely into its space below the grill. Store auxiliary tanks either outside or in a designated structure away from your home.
Leaks in Hoses – Check all hoses for damages or leaks. Do this using a 1 to 1 solution of liquid soap and water. With the tank valve open, run the solution along the hose(s) watching for bubbles. If a leak is detected, have the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
- Arrange the hose(s) below the grill, so they do not come in contact with the body of the grill or any dripping fat or oil.
- Clean out any blockages in the hoses or the Venturi tube (feeds gas to the burners). Oil or grease can build up, or spiders and other insects can try to nest in these openings. Pipe cleaners are handy for this.
Watch this video to learn how to find and solve gas hose leaks on your grill.
Starting the Grill – If the grill’s ignition switch is malfunctioning or stopped working, have it serviced by a professional before trying to use it.
I Smell Gas! – If you smell gas while cooking, take immediate action. Get yourself and everyone else away from the grill and call the fire department.
Grilling Safety for Your Home and Family
The following tips will help you create and maintain a safe environment while producing your grilled culinary delights.
Clothing and Utensils – Wear clothing without hanging frills, strings, or shirttails that can catch fire. Long-handled utensils will help you keep a safe distance from the heat of the grill. And don’t forget the mitts to handle hot objects and vents.
Distance from your Home – Grills of any type should only be lit and operated at a minimum of 3 feet from your home.
The Right Place for the Grill – The ground or surface you grill on should be flat, sturdy, and not flammable. Likewise, never grill below awnings or extensions from the house.
Open Lid When Lighting – To avoid an explosion or blast of flames, only light the grill with the top hood or door open.
Never Move a Lit Grill – While the grill is lit or hot, it should be left in its place until completely cooled.
Create a Safe Zone around the Grill – While the grill is in operation, do not allow any children or activities to come within a 3-foot radius of the grill.
Never Walk Away While Lit – Abandoning a lit grill is an invitation for trouble; a fire could rare up, the grill could get knocked over, the food could burn, or someone could get seriously injured.
- When preparing to grill, make a checklist of everything you need to take outside. If you need something from inside, have someone get it for you.
Remove Fat and Grease Buildup – Clean the grill when you are finished cooking. Likewise, verify that it’s clean before you fire it up. Grease, oil, and debris can build up from previous uses creating a fire hazard.
Keep a Charged Fire Extinguisher with an “ABC” rating Nearby – While grilling, things can get out of control very quickly.
- In the event of a fire, caused by ambers or a knocked over grill, use a fire extinguisher to put them out.
- If a fire extinguisher is not available, have a bucket of sand stashed nearby to put the flames out. If the fire is a grease fire, use this option unless the extinguisher has a “K” or “ABC” rating.
- Fire extinguisher ratings are as follows:
A = wood, paper, cloth, and trash
B = gasoline, oil, paint, and other flammable liquids
C = live electrical equipment without risk to the operator
D = combustible metals and metal alloys
K = cooking media such as grease, oils, and fats
You can use extinguishers with an “ABC” rating for any home fire, including the grill.
Watch this video to see an “ABC” fire extinguisher in action.
Grill Related Fires and Insurance
Before throwing the burgers, dogs, or veggies on the grill, make sure it is operating correctly and that you have taken steps to create a safe grilling environment.
If the unthinkable should happen and your home sustains damages from a grill related fire, you will be dealing with fire, smoke, and structural damage. Not to mention water damage from putting the fire out.
Your homeowner’s insurance (under a standard policy) provides financial protection. Fire is a covered peril.