7 Ways to Be Safe Firing up Your Grill - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on August 10, 2016

7 Ways to Be Safe Firing up Your Grill

Grills cause an average of 8,900 home fires annually.

Each year, grills cause an average of
8,900 home fires.

Grilling is a staple at homes across the U.S. in the summer – it’s a generally healthy way to cook and it makes food taste great. However, grills cause an average of 8,900 home fires annually, and thousands of Americans are injured while grilling every year.

Anytime you’re working with fire, there’s a risk of burns. When you’re ready to fire up your grill, here’s what you can do to lower the risk of serious burns and house fires.

1. Keep the Distance

Your grill should be at least 10 feet away from your house, but even farther away is better. Your grill also shouldn’t be used under wooden overhangs. If your grill flares up and it’s too close to your house or a structure above it, it can spread. Decorations, hanging baskets, umbrellas, patio furniture and cushions or pillows should also be kept far away from your grill – if they’re made of artificial fibers, they can burn hot and fast if a flare spreads from your grill.

2. Regularly Clean Your Grill

Allowing grease and fat to build up on your grill could provide more fuel for a fire. Plus, scrubbing your grill after each use also prevents harmful heterocyclic amines (HCAs) from building up and transferring to your next grilled meal – HCAs may raise the risk of stomach and colorectal cancers.

Just make sure you’re cleaning with caution and a new wire barbecue brush. There have been a number of cases of people who accidentally ate one of these brushes’ wire bristles that fell off during a cleaning and found their way into food. Accidentally eating a wire bristle can cause serious internal injuries, infection, and may require surgical removal.

3. Check for Gas Leaks

A grill gas leak can lead to a serious flare up of fire if ignited, potentially causing serious burns. Make sure no gas is leaking by making a solution of half water and half liquid dish soap. Rub it on the hoses and connections of your grill. Turn on the gas with the grill lid open. If the soap forms bubbles, it’s a sign that the connections aren’t tight enough or the hoses have small holes in them.

Similarly, you should never turn on the gas to your grill with the lid shut. Doing this allows gas to build up in the closed grill, which can lead to an explosion and severe burns when you light it.

4. Keep a Spray Bottle of Water and Fire Extinguisher Nearby

In case of a minor flare up, use the spray bottle right away to calm it down. Since it’s only water, it won’t ruin the food you’re grilling.

In case of a larger flare up, you’ll be happy you have a fire extinguisher nearby. Just make sure you know how to use it. If you don’t, call 911 before trying to figure out how to use it.

5. Don’t Leave Your Grill Unattended

Grill fires can double in size every minute, which means if you aren’t paying attention to your grill and a fire starts, it can be too large for you to put it out by the time you discover it. Do all of your food prep and other chores before grilling so you can focus on cooking.

6. Don’t Put Too Much Food On the Grill

Overloading your grill with food, especially fatty meats, could mean too much fat dripping down onto flames at once. This can lead to a large flare up.

7. Never Use a Grill Indoors

If you have a small grill, you may think it’s safe to use indoors, but that’s simply not true. A grill is always a fire hazard and can be more devastating if it flares up inside. Plus, grills release carbon monoxide, a deadly, colorless and odorless gas that can kill you, your family and pets. Your grill needs to be outside and in an area that’s well ventilated.

How to Treat a Burn

If you or a family member suffers a burn, there are some immediate steps you can take to ensure proper care is received. If it’s a superficial burn, medical care might not be necessary. However, more sever burns may require immediate medical attention.

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