As there is now a month for everything, May has been designated “National Barbeque Month” (bet you didn’t know that!?!), and although that might sound slightly nonsensical, fire safety around grills is serious business.

Here is a scary statistic: Almost 9,000 homes each year experience a fire that is directly related to outdoor grills. Sometimes it is simply the grill that catches fire, sometimes the entire house is a loss. With Memorial Day weekend and the kickoff to summer two weeks away, I thought it might be a good time to give you some quick safety tips before you throw on the first hot dogs and steaks.

Before I begin, a few facts:

·      According to the National Fire Protection Association over $118 million dollars in direct property damage are attributed to grills, hibachis or barbecues.

·      83% of grill fires were attributed to units fueled by gas, the remaining were charcoal or other solid fuel.

·      Failure to clean, a leak in the gas cylinder hose, placing the grill next to combustible material and leaving the grill unattended were the four main causes of fire.

Preparing your Gas Grill for The Season:

1.    Make sure the propane hose is safe by applying a solution of water and soap suds to the outer skin. If you see soap bubbles erupting from the hose, then you have a leak.

2.    Remove the grates from the grill, disconnect the propane and clean off any residue, droppings, sauces and spills from the entire unit. Toss the old spillage tray and replenish with new.

3.    Make sure the grill is placed on an even surface, 10 feet away from the house, automobiles, garage, sheds and other structures. Grills should never be used indoors, inside enclosures, or under overhead decks.

A Few More Tips Before You Start that Shish Kebab:

1.    Never light a gas grill with the lid closed. Only ignite when the lid is open. The proper steps are, open grill, turn on propane and then hit the ignition switch.

2.    If you smell propane gas while cooking, walk away from the grill and call 9-1-1.  Do not turn off grill. Do not attempt to move grill while you smell gas.

3.    Propane tanks should never be stored in your garage, basement, shed or in close proximity to the house. They are a dangerous fire hazard.

And if Charcoal Is Your Fuel of Preference:

1.    Check the grill for rust before you fill with charcoal. Deterioration could result in the charcoal falling through and igniting the ground under the grill (don’t laugh …. We have had insurance claims based on this.)

2.    Starter fluid should only be used before the barbeque is lit. Never spray liquid fuel on a burning fire. It can combust.

3.    Once finished with the grill, the proper way to dispose of charcoal is to soak the briquettes in water until they cool down and place them away from flammable materials. 10 years ago we had a total loss house fire in Warwick due to charcoal reigniting after it was disposed of. 

And lastly, grills tend to remain “hot” long after the party has wound down. Emergency Rooms have seen many a burnt fingers and arms due to children accidently touching the grill thinking it had cooled off. It is always a really good idea to keep all barbeques and grills as far away from the kids as possible. Create a separate “space” for grilling. (some additional links below to supply you with additional safety tips)

I hope you have a fun-filled, sun-filled summer. Stay safe!