Gearing Up For Summer Safety - Outdoor Grilling Safety
By Lieutenant Scot Best
June 23, 2022

Every year, we look forward to summer vacations, camping, family reunions, and picnics. Summertime, however, can also bring unwanted fires and injuries due to these outdoor activities. During the month of June, the Ridge VFD will share summer fire safety tips on various topics. This week, we focus on Outdoor Grilling Safety.

Summertime means outdoor grilling time. It is also the peak season for grilling fires. Seven out of every 10 adults in the U.S. have a grill or smoker, which translates to a lot of tasty meals. But it also means there’s an increased risk of home fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in 2014-2018, fire departments went to an annual average of 8,900 home fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues per year, including 3,900 structure fires and 4,900 outside or unclassified fires.

Grilling fire facts:
• July is the peak month for grill fires (18%), including both structure, outdoor or unclassified fires, followed by June (15%), May (13%) and August (12%).
• In 2014-2018, an average of 19,700 patients per year went to emergency rooms because of injuries involving grills. Nearly half (9,500 or 48%) of the injuries were thermal burns, including both burns from fire and from contact with hot objects; 5,200 thermal burns, per year, were caused by such contact or other non-fire events.
• Children under the age of five accounted for an average of 2,000 or 39%, of the contact-type burns per year. These burns typically occurred when someone, often a child, bumped into, touched, or fell on the grill, grill part or hot coals.
• Gas grills were involved in an average of 8,900 home fires per year, including 3,900 structure fires and 4,900 outdoor fires annually. Leaks or breaks were primarily a problem with gas grills. Ten percent of gas grill structure fires and 22% of outside gas grill fires were caused by leaks or breaks.
• Charcoal or other solid-fueled grills were involved in 1,300 home fires per year, including 600 structure fires and 600 outside fires annually.

Outdoor cooks are urged to keep fire safety in mind as they start up the grill this summer. Never use a grill on a deck, porch, enclosed patio, or balcony. Grills should be at least three feet away from anything that can burn, and should not be placed under low-hanging branches. Grilling too close to your home is a good way to ruin a barbecue!

The RVFD and NFPA remind you:
• Propane, charcoal, and wood pellet barbecue grills must only be used outdoors. Indoor use can kill occupants by causing a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Place the grill well away from siding and deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Do not store or use a grill on a porch or balcony, including any porch or balcony on an upper level of the building.
• Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and foot traffic.
• Keep children and pets away from the grill area. Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around the grill.
• Never leave a barbeque grill unattended.
• Light a propane grill only with the cover open. If the flame on the propane grill goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least five minutes before re-lighting.
• Clean burner ports with pipe cleaner, wire, or specialty wire brushes to remove any rust, dirt, spider webs and food particles.
• Check hoses for cracks or damage and replace, if necessary.
• Check hose connections for leaks by brushing a 50% liquid dish soap and 50% water solution onto all hose connections and valves. Bubbles indicate a leak. If you encounter a leak, shut off the propane at the tank, tighten all hose connections and check again for leaks. NEVER use matches or lighters to check for leaks.
• Keep your barbecue clean of grease or food build-up that can start a fire. Empty the grease trap regularly.
• Use a bucket of warm sudsy water to wash grease and food build-up off of lava rocks or bricks.
• Inspect the propane cylinder for cuts, gouges, dents and rusting. Replace the propane cylinder, if necessary.