Editor’s Note: Since more grill fires occur in July than any other month, this blog post, originally published in 2015, is worth repeating. Enjoy grilling safely this summer!
Summer is here, and for many people that means it’s time to fire up their outdoor grill and get cooking! Holidays such as July 4 and Labor Day are often prime choices for entertaining with family and friends, with outdoor cooking being the key activity fueling the event supplying hot burgers, hot dogs, steaks, chicken, vegetables and fruit to hungry guests.
Grilling can be a family activity, with grandparents, parents and children taking turns handling the cooking. But with any activity that involves open flames, it’s important for anyone using an outdoor grill to be cautious about fire safety to guard against personal injury and damage to a home.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), every year an average of 8,800 home fires are caused by grilling, and almost 50 percent of all injuries involving grills are due to thermal burns. While almost half of the people who grill do it year-round, July is the peak month for grill fires, followed by May, June and August.
The NFPA’s article on “Home Fires Involving Cooking Equipment,” by Marty Ahrens, from November 2013, highlighted some grilling dangers:
- In 2012, 16,900 patients went to emergency rooms because of injuries involving grills.
- One of every six (16%) home structure fires in which grills were involved in ignition, something that could catch fire was too close to the grill.
- Overall, leaks or breaks were factors in one of every five reported grill fires.
- Gas grills contribute to a higher number of home fires overall than their charcoal counterparts.
The NFPA has a fact sheet on home fires involving grills that can be downloaded.
The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) has some potentially useful tips on safety related to outdoor cooking, including suggestions on:
- General Grilling Safety
- Gas Grill Safety
- Charcoal Grill Safety
- Electric Grill Safety
- Turkey Fryer Safety
Following is a summary of suggestions from the HPBA’s General Grilling Safety page:
- Read the grill’s owner’s manual
- Grills are for outside use only
- Use a grill in a well-ventilated area
- Keep grill stable and level
- Follow electric codes
- Use long-handled utensils for handling food
- Wear safe clothing
- Keep the fire under control
- Be ready to extinguish flames
- Consider placing a grill pad or splatter mat beneath your grill
- Never leave a grill unattended once lit
- Stay away from a hot grill
- Don’t move a hot grill
The HPBA also has a fact sheet on safe barbecuing here.
So remember when you get cookin’ to be careful! Are you a griller? What’s your favorite item to cook? What’s your favorite grilling recipe or sauce? Let us know below!