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Safety Precautions When Grilling

The grilling season is upon us, and homeowners need to ensure their homes and loved ones are protected by taking the appropriate safety measures. Make sure to practice methods that are safe throughout the outdoor grilling season (June-August) when most grilling related fires occur. The greatest risks are experienced with gas grills; for instance between 2007 and 2011, yearly there were an estimated 7,200 household fires related to the use of gas grills with an additional estimated 1,400 fires related to the use of other solid-fueled or charcoal grills.

Specifics and Statistics

• Fire departments throughout the United States attended to an approximate 8,800 house and outdoor fires from 2007 to 2011. Of these fires there were on average 140 resident injuries, 10 resident deaths and property damages estimated up to $96,000,000 annually.

• On average 27% of household fires which were grill related ignited on the patio, courtyard or terrace of the building, 29% of the fires ignited on an open porch or exterior balcony and an estimated 6% were kitchen related fires.

• In 43% of the household outside fires related to grill use, 51% involved outdoor gas grills. In 29% of building fires involving gas grills of these combustible gas or flammable liquid ignition was the initial cause.

Propane Fueled Grills

The Consumer Product Safety Commission, otherwise known as the CPSC, has recorded a yearly average of 500 fires caused by faulty or unsafe practices involving propane grills; thus when not properly maintained or misused these grills are an extreme fire hazard. Provided below are safety measures and methods to implement with the use of propane fueled grills:

• Never store propane tanks indoors, near sources of heat and especially near the grill. Also, when transporting a propane tank never put them in the trunk of a car due to high heat buildup in confined spaces.

• When finished using the grill or changing the tank take caution to tighten the valve fully in the closed position. The slightest amount of fuel loss from the tank can cause ignition resulting in a life threatening explosion.

• It is against the law and extremely hazardous to operate a propane gas grill on a roof, terrace or balcony.

• Residents occupying 1 to 2 families are only permitted to store on the premises up to 2 propane tanks weighing 20 lbs each at any given time.

• Regularly evaluate your grill to assure against leakage with the use of a soapy substance, such as dish soap, by applying it to all parts and connections to look for bubbles which will identify a leak. If a leak is found, tighten the fittings and retest. If the leak precedes change the leaking parts and try again. If this does not correct the issue turn off the grill and discontinue use.

• When a grill has not been used for long periods of time be sure to evaluate the equipment using the tactics previously provided. Grills used for the first time of the season are when the most incidents occur.

• When lighting the grill be sure to have the lid open so that propane does not accumulate within the enclosed space causing an explosion.

• After grilling is complete, first turn off the tank then the controls to assure that the fuel in the lines is burned off completely.

Charcoal Fueled Grills

Carbon monoxide (CO) produced from charcoal grills presents a grave danger. A yearly approximation by the CPSC states that 20 deaths occur by ingestion of CO produced when using charcoal as a fuel source when grilling. This type of grill is also known to create life threatening fires with the use of unsafe practices. Provided below are safety measures and methods to implement with the use of charcoal fueled grills:

• Outdoor grills are to remain outdoors. It is never safe practice to operate these grills indoors even with windows open or the house ventilated. Not only is this a fire safety concern, the burning of charcoal creates CO which is typically not detected until after ingested and death occurs.

• Never use any other fire provoking substance other than charcoal fluid to start the grill. Also, do not pour starter fluid on an open flame. The fire can chase the fluid back to the container causing an explosion to occur in your hand.

• After applying the starter fluid to the charcoal allow the coals to absorb the fluid. Not only will this benefit the start of the charcoal burning process it will allow all flammable vapors to disperse.

• Charcoal fuelled grills are allowed on balconies and terraces specifically when a water source is within an easily accessible distance from the grilling station, such as a hose or a minimum of 5 gallons of water. Additionally, the grill needs to be a minimum of 10 feet from any and all structures.

• When not in use be sure to store the starter fluid in a location that is away from flames and heat sources. Further, take precaution to not accidently or unknowingly spill starter fluid on yourself or your clothing and always keep a safe distance from the grill when igniting the coals.

• Before cleaning the grill allow time for the coals to completely extinguish while a responsible person is attending to assure fire safety. Only when absolutely necessary, put hot coals in a metal container with water and securely cover keeping the container away from flammable materials and products.

• When practicing safe measures, never use more than 2 inches of charcoal in the base of the grill.

Electric Fueled Grills

Of the three types of grills discussed the electric fueled grill is most commonly the safest, although safe practices and procedures still need to be used. Provided below are safety measures and methods to implement with the use of electric fueled grills:

• Never utilize combustible products or starter fluid with electric grills.

• With the use of an extension cord always be sure it has the amperage rating needed specifically for the grill in use. Also, do not leave the cord obstructing pathways to assure against trip hazards.

• Be sure that the use of the grill is according to the manufacturers specifications.

Recommendations for the Safe General use of all Grills

• Never leave a grill unattended and be sure to safeguard against children and pets from running into it or knocking the grill over resulting in personal injury and/or fire conducive conditions.

• Never leave starter fluid and matches or lighters around to be found by children. This may lead to a child inadvertently starting a fire and/or causing injury to him or herself and/or to others.

• Always use a grill with a water supply within safe proximity.

• Before moving or storing a grill be sure that it has cooled down completely.

• Always use a grill on level surfaces and at a safe distance from structures, vegetation and flammable materials.

• Make sure to keep clean and maintain grills regularly and do not use if damaged or deteriorated.

• Clothing can easily catch fire, so stay far enough away from flames and never wear loose fit clothing when grilling or near a lit grill.

• When grilling be sure to use non-flammable oven mitts and grilling utensils with extended handles.

• Alcoholic beverages can ignite when near flames, thus they should be kept well away from the grill and grilling station.

In closing, always take the appropriate safety measures when grilling to keep yourself, loved ones and personal property protected. Grilling season is one of the best times of year and should not be jeopardized due to unsafe and irresponsible grilling practices.

Protect Your Home & Family this Summer by Practicing Safe Grilling Methods & Procedures

Home Assessment Specialists,LLC, Home Inspection Service, Mokena, IL

Sarah Koroll, Broker
REALTOR® and Property Manager
Century 21 Affiliated
cell 630.677.5706

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