The National Fire Protection Association states that Three out of five households own a gas grill, which translates to a lot of tasty meals. But it also means there’s an increased risk of home fires.
Each year an average of 8,900 home fires are caused by grilling, and close to half of all injuries involving grills are due to thermal burns. While nearly half of the people who grill do it year-round, July is the peak month for grill fires followed by May, June and August.
- In 2014, 16,600 patients went to emergency rooms because of injuries involving grills
- July is the peak month for grill fires (17%), including both structure, outdoor or unclassified fires, followed by May, June and August
- A failure to clean the grill was the leading factor contributing to the fire in one –fifth of all grill structure fires (19%). In 17%, something that could catch fire was too close to the grill
- Leaks or breaks were the factor in 11% of grill structure fires and 23% of outside and unclassified grill fires
- Gas grills contribute to a higher number of home fires overall than their charcoal counterparts
Source: NFPA’s “Home Grill Fires” by Marty Ahrens, April 2016.
The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association says that with more Americans lighting their grills than ever before, it’s important to remember that a fun barbecue is a safe barbecue. The following safety tips are designed to guide you through the grilling process. Remember, anytime you work with fire, there’s a chance of getting burned. So, take precautions. Common sense and planning will prevent injuries.
- Read the owner’s manual. Always read the owner’s manual before using your grill and follow specific usage, assembly, and safety procedures. Contact the grill manufacturer if you have specific questions.
- Grills are for outside, only. Barbecue grills are designed for outdoor use, only. Never barbecue in your trailer, tent, house, garage, or any enclosed area because carbon monoxide may accumulate and kill you.
- Use in well-ventilated area. Set up your grill in an open area that is away from buildings, overhead combustible surfaces, dry leaves, or brush. Be sure to avoid high traffic areas and always barbecue in a well-ventilated area. Be aware of wind-blown sparks.
- Keep grill stable. When using a barbecue grill, be sure that all parts of the unit are firmly in place and that the grill is stable (can’t be tipped over).
- Follow electric codes. If electrically-operated accessories are used (rotisseries, etc.), be sure they are properly grounded in accordance with local codes. Electrical cords should be placed away from walkways or anywhere people can trip over them.
- Use long-handled utensils. Use barbecue utensils with long handles (forks, tongs, etc.) to avoid burns and splatters.
- Wear safe clothing. Wear clothing that does not have hanging shirt tails, frills, or apron strings that can catch fire, and use flame-retardant mitts when adjusting hot vents.
- Keep fire under control. To put out flare-ups, either raise the grid that the food is on, spread the coals out evenly, or adjust the controls to lower the temperature. If you must douse the flames with a light spritz of water, first remove the food from the grill.
- Be ready to extinguish flames. Use baking soda to control a grease fire and have a fire extinguisher handy. A bucket of sand or a garden hose should be near if you don’t have a commercial extinguisher.
- Consider placing a grill pad or splatter mat beneath your grill. These naturally heat resistant pads are usually made of lightweight composite cement or plastic and will protect your deck or patio from any grease that misses the drip pan.
- Never leave a grill unattended once lit. Stay away from hot grill.
Don’t allow anyone to conduct activity near the grill when in use or immediately following its use. The grill body remains hot up to an hour after being used.
- Don’t move a hot grill. Never attempt to move a hot grill. It’s easy to stumble or drop it and serious burns could result.
These tips are not intended to be an exhaustive review of safety guidelines and should not be interpreted as precluding other procedures which would enhance safe barbecue grill operations. Issuance of these safety tips should not be construed as an undertaking to perform services on behalf of any party either for their protection or the protection of third parties. The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association assumes no liability for reliance on the contents of this information.