In the Midwest, they’re two things almost all of us love about summer—enjoying the warm weather and grilling. In fact, July is peak grilling season followed closely by May, June and August and we all can agree there’s nothing better than the smell of food like burgers, salmon and ribs cooking on a grill.
This popular summer pastime can be dangerous – deadly, in fact. Did you know grills cause thousands of fires, hundreds of injuries, dozens of deaths and millions of dollars in insurance claims annually? Before you fire up that grill for your next barbeque, take a look at these safety tips to ensure your next experience is safe.
- Be prepared — always read the owners’ manual and follow safety guidelines for your new grill (they’re usually available online if you no longer have a copy). Inspect the parts and accessories on a regular basis and do not use if there are leaks or cracks.
- Keep kids and pets far away — Kids and pets should never be near a hot grill, period. Their curious little minds can cause injury fast; it just takes a split second to get a severe burn. If you’re grilling at home, indoors is the safest place for them to be while an adult is grilling; if being indoors is not an option make sure they stay at least 20 to 30 feet away from the grill.
- Grease — A grill plus grease equals a deadly concoction. It only takes a few cookouts for grease to collect and cause a flare-up—this is when grease or fat drips down into your coals and catches fire. Flare-ups are a normal part of grilling but can get out of hand fast and cause injury. To avoid flare-ups, regularly clean the grease catch pan, properly preheat your grill, use lean cuts of meat and don’t over oil or marinade your food.
- Charcoal — Use the proper starter fluid (reference your owners’ manual to identify the type) and store it away from children and heat sources. Never add starter fluid after the coals have been ignited.
- Propane — Gas grills are becoming more popular, and the #1 cause of fire with these types of grills is an obstruction in the path of the fuel. Regularly inspect your tank and hose (remember: everything is extremely hot so wear proper protection). Bugs, dirt and even small animals can climb into your grill causing the gas to flow improperly.
- Watch the weather — you never want to be outside during bad weather and grilling just increases your chance of injury. You may recall a few years ago when ESPN’s Hannah Storm was badly injured in a grill fire after wind blew out the flame and propane flooded her grill. She attempted to re-ignite it, causing an explosive fireball resulting in burns on her, neck, chest and hands. She is now an advocate for grill safety partnering with the National Protection Agency to tell her story.
- Location — Always grill outside in a well-vented area away from trees, cars, houses and garages. A hot grill can easily cause severe burns, so never attempt to move it while it’s hot.
Please share these tips with family and friends and be sure to have a safe and Happy Fourth of July!