National Preparedness Month: Grill Safety

Grill Fire Safety

Summer is coming to a close, but there are plenty of football games ahead, and your backyard grill is going to be working hard late into the fall. Grilling is often a community activity, and it’s easy for building flames or smoking burgers to go unnoticed until they have become a full blaze.  Here’s a few quick tips to stay safe while hosting backyard barbeques or game-day parties.

Keep the Grease to a Minimum

Those fatty burger patties might taste the best, but they also produce more grease, making them very flammable. Keeping a spray bottle full of water next to the grill is a good way to cool everything down and keep the flames contained. Another way to prevent a grease fire is to keep your grill clean. Grease can accumulate at the bottom of your grill, and once introduced to fresh, hot drippings, can rapidly catch fire.  Cleaning your grill thoroughly before fall festivities begin is a great way to prepare ahead for avoiding a larger fire.

Position the Grill Wisely

A rogue flame jumping out of the grill too close to the house or low, dry tree branches can turn a harmless cookout into a big problem. Make sure that when you set up your grill, you position it a safe distance from your house, especially if it is built out of wood or has wooden siding.  Also be sure to look at what’s above before firing up your grill.

Be Smart with the Fuel Source

Charcoal grills may produce savory flavors, but once they get hot, it is very difficult to cool them. Gas grills have their own dangers; since they appear to be easier to control, it is easy to underestimate how much they need monitored. When prepping your grill, think carefully about your fuel and heat sources.  It is always better to underestimate and add coals or increase heat, than to overestimate and create a huge fire that your grill cannot contain.

Don’t Leave It Unattended

It may seem obvious, but we would be wrong not to list this basic safety tip. Do not leave your grill unattended, even if you think you know how long you have before it’s really hot.  Nature’s tricks are impossible to predict, and all it takes are a few wayward sparks to start a fire in your lawn.  It is especially important to stay close when children are outside, to prevent curious hands from being burned on the hot metal.  Any time a fire is lit, whether it’s a small candle or a huge bonfire, it must always be watched carefully.

Keep a Fire Extinguisher Nearby

Though we will again caution against spraying a grease fire directly with an extinguisher, as we warned in our article about indoor cooking safety, a fire extinguisher can definitely be a safe device to put out rogue flames or to control a building fire. When using an extinguisher, remember the PASS method, Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep.  A little 2.5 lb ABC extinguisher is perfect for this purpose.

September is National Preparedness Month, and in honor of this we will be posting weekly articles about preventative measures you can take to minimize fire hazards around the house, and how to prepare a plan for your family in the event of a fire occurring. Be sure to check Facebook and Twitter, where we will be sharing the latest article every Monday.