Summertime and backyard barbecues go hand in hand. Unfortunately, property damage, injury and even death, occurs as a result of home fires involving grills and barbecues every year. These statistics could be prevented simply with safety knowledge and awareness. Here are some tips to ensure you, your family and your property are protected when firing up the grill for a delicious feast.
Gas Barbecue Safety Tips:
The National Fire Protection Association reports that flammable gas or liquid is the first item ignited in half of outdoor grill fires at home.
- Whether you have a portable propane tank or a natural gas line, check the connections for leaks before using your gas grill. Put soapy water on all joints and connections. If tiny bubbles form, a leak needs to be fixed before you light it. While it may be as simple as tightening the joint, just be sure not to over tighten!
- Check for rusted burners. You’ll probably have to buy BBQ burner replacements frequently but you can find them in many hardware stores or buy them from your barbecue’s manufacturer.
- Clean venturi tubes regularly. These are the tubes that extend from the burner to the control valves. Spiders and small insects like to build nests in there, causing blockages making grills difficult to ignite. It can interfere with gas flow making the flame uneven and dangerous.
- Always light your gas barbecue with the lid open. If it doesn’t start, turn off the gas and wait a few minutes for the gas to disperse before attempting again.
- Liquid propane gas is pressurized and requires special handling and storage. Make sure that the cylinder is not overfilled.
- When the liquid propane cylinder is connected, the grill must be kept outside in a well-vented space because carbon monoxide can cause serious injury or death.
- Never store extra cylinders indoors and if you need to change them, do so in an open outdoor space. Never use cylinders that are past their expiration date.
- Consider using ceramic briquettes instead of lava rocks that can catch fire.
- When finished, turn off the burners and the propane cylinder and check for grease build-up while cleaning.
Charcoal Grill Safety Tips:
It’s not just gas barbecues that have safety measures. It’s important to always use charcoal grills in a well-ventilated area to avoid fires.
- Only use enough charcoal to cover the base of the barbecue about two inches deep.
- If using charcoal briquettes, use the minimum amount of lighter fluid necessary to get them going since they give off carbon monoxide. Because of this, let the lighter fluid soak into the coals a few minutes before lighting them so the gas can evaporate. Then stand back when lighting!
- Never use gasoline or kerosene to start the fire. Use only recognized charcoal starter fluid.
- After using starter fluid, close the container and move it away from the open flame. Never add more fluid once the coals are burning.
- When removing charcoal ashes from the barbecue, make sure they are cool (this could take up to 48 hours). Never put ashes into a paper bag or garbage can as this could start a fire. Instead, wrap the ashes in foil and put them in an empty non-combustible container.
- Allow coals to burn out completely or you can soak them in water before putting them in a non-combustible container, but be careful of hot steam.
- Store extra charcoal in a metal container with a tight– fitting lid to keep it dry.
General Barbecue Safety Tips:
- Open the grill lid before you light it.
- Never leave a grill unattended.
- Make sure you use the grill 10 feet away from your house.
- Keep children away from the grill and the grill lighter.
- Don’t light the grill inside a garage, even if the door is open. Never use a barbecue indoors or in tents. This is a dangerous fire hazard and can cause high levels of carbon monoxide.
- Make sure the barbecue is on flat ground or a stable base and away from fences and hanging branches.
- Light barbecues with a long match or mechanical lighter specific to barbecues. Use long-handled tools and flame-retardant mitts. Do not wear loose clothing!
- Be aware of the wind blowing sparks. Have a fire extinguisher, bucket of water or a garden hose nearby should a fire start. If it’s a grease fire, never use water; instead spread baking soda over the flames.
- If you need to move the barbecue, allow it to cool completely.
You don’t have to be a grill master to have an enjoyable barbecue experience. With the knowledge of safety precautions and the right tools handy, you can protect your family and property from unnecessary devastation. Grill on!
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