Labor day weekend often brings with it backyard fun and food. Many people will be breaking out their burgers and bratwursts and firing up the barbecue this summer. If they aren’t careful, however, that outdoor grill could cause major damage or worse.
Two Nevada homes caught fire earlier this summer when sparks from an outdoor barbecue ignited a nearby fence. No one was hurt in the fire, but it destroyed both homes. The American Red Cross assisted the residents of those homes.
This incident serves as a reminder that a few barbecue safety precautions can prevent your party from turning deadly.
The American Red Cross offers several tips when using charcoal or gas grills:
- Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
- Never grill indoors – not in the house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
- Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.
- Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire.
- Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.
The National Fire Protection Association also provides grilling safety tips and helpful videos to prevent barbecue-related incidents:
Before using your grill:
Check the major connection points between the gas tank hose and the regulator and cylinder and where the hose connects to the burners. Tighten if loose.
- Check the gas tank hose for potential gas leaks.
- Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose using a brush or spray bottle.
- Turn the propane tank on. If there is a gas leak, the propane will release bubbles around the hose.
- If there are no bubbles, your grill is safe to use.
- If there are bubbles, turn off the tank and check connections, then have your grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
- If the leak doesn’t stop, call the fire department immediately.
When the grill is on:
- As you are cooking, if you smell gas, turn off the gas tank and burners.
- If the leak stops immediately, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
- If the smell continues, move away from the grill and call the fire department immediately. Do not move the grill.
- There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.
- If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
- Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
- There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
- When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.
By following these safety tips, you can ensure your backyard barbecues produce food and fun and not a visit from the local fire department.