As Florida homeowners begin breaking out their beloved barbecue grills to celebrate summer, now is the ideal time to refresh yourself on grill fire safety.
According to FEMA, residential grill fires result in an average of 100 injuries and $37 million in property loss each year, and more than half of grill-related fires occur between May and August.
Don’t let your next family cookout go down in flames. Take a look at these seven grilling safety tips to keep your family’s summer festivities safe and tasty.
Location. Location. Location.
32% of residential grill fires occur on patios, terraces, screened-in porches, and courtyards, and 24% start on exterior balconies and unenclosed porches.
Operate your grill in an open, outdoor area that is well ventilated and away from your home. While it may be tempting to fire up those steaks underneath your patio overhang during an afternoon rainstorm, it could do more harm than good. Wood railings and awnings can easily catch fire, and it only takes a few minutes for a small flame to spread and cause serious damage to your home.
Keep It Clean
A grimy grill not only makes your food taste bad, but also creates a fire hazard. Remove grease and fat buildup using a long-handled grill brush. Check that the grill is cool to the touch before cleaning.
Protect Your Deck: Use a Splatter Mat
Splattered grease and sauce drippings can stain your deck. Protect your deck by investing in a splatter mat. They can be purchased online or at your local hardware store for about $20.
Inspect Your Propane Tank
It is extremely important to check your propane grill’s gas tank hose for leaks before using it the first time each year. To do this, wash the hose with a light soap and water solution. If there is a leak, gas will escape from cracks and form new bubbles on the hose's surface. Smaller bubbles indicate a minor leak, while larger bubbles indicate a more significant leak. If this occurs, turn the grill off immediately and replace the hose.
Use Your Senses
If ignored, a gas leak can quickly ignite an explosion, putting your home, family and guests in serious danger. If you ever start to smell gas while operating your grill, immediately turn it off, walk away and replace the hose. Do not move the grill.
Proper Shut Down
- Wait about five minutes after use and then clean the grill grate with a long-handled grill brush.
- Turn off the grill. The grill should make a popping sound as the gas stops flowing into the grill grates.
- Turn off the gas tank. There should be a small knob on the top of the tank that has arrows pointing to “open” and “close.” Turn off the tank by twisting the knob clockwise toward the “close” position.
- Let the grill cool and close the cover.
- Clean the cooking grate with a long-handled grill brush. Remove the cooking plate with oven mitts and place it in a safe, open area; it will still be hot.
- Locate and close the vents.
- Stir the charcoal with long-handled tongs or a poker, spray with water and place the cover on the grill.
Note: Never dump hot coals into a garbage can. They can maintain their heat for up to 24 hours, and a single ember can ignite a fire. Instead, replace old charcoal with new charcoal before starting the grill for the next use.
Most Importantly… Be Prepared in Case of Uncontrolled Fire
Have a fire extinguisher and phone within reach while operating your grill. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher, keep a garden hose ready or use sand to put out a fire.