Ah, the smell of backyard barbecue—one of the best aromas of summer! July is National Grilling Month, and the height of “grilling season” across the US. And while most people go their whole lifetimes without an incident, July is also peak month for grill fires, resulting in thousands of injuries and millions of dollars of property damage each year. While fire is a covered peril under your homeowner’s insurance, no one wants to deal with the trauma and hassle of coping with a house fire.
So before you fire up that grill, protect your property and loved ones with these key grilling safety tips.
Grilling safety tips
Always operate your propane or charcoal grill outdoors in a well-ventilated area. In addition to posing a fire risk, grills produce deadly carbon monoxide fumes—so never use your grill inside your house or garage.
Position your grill well away from your home, garage, deck railings, overhanging branches, or shrubs. Make sure it’s on a flat and level surface so that it won’t tip over or roll. Don’t move the grill once it’s lit.
Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill, and never leave it unattended. Make sure matches and lighters are not where children can reach them.
Keep your distance from the heat and flames by using long-handled tools when grilling.
Keep a fire extinguisher handy in case of a grill fire. Grill fires are basically the same as grease fires, so using water won’t work and can be dangerous. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher, you can try smothering the flames by closing the lid and grill vents to cut off oxygen to the fire. If you can do so safely, you may also pour baking soda on the flames.
If there’s any danger of the fire spreading to your home (or a neighbor’s), call the fire department immediately. House fires can spread rapidly.
If you have a gas/propane grill:
Before you grill for the first time this season, or if you haven’t already done so, check that tank hoses are in good condition with no leaks or blockages. Apply a 50/50 soap and water solution, and if you see bubbles, there’s a leak. Turn off the propane, and have the tank serviced professionally. You can use a pipe cleaner or wire to clear any blockages.
Make sure the lid is open when lighting the grill. If the lid is closed, gas can build up and cause a fireball.
Don’t lean over the grill as you light it.
If a burner won’t light or goes out after lighting, turn off the grill and wait at least five minutes before trying again.
Remember to turn off the gas when you’re done grilling!
Note: if you can still smell gas after you turn off the grill, call the fire department.
If you have a charcoal grill:
If you use starter fluid to light your coals, only use fluid specifically made for grilling. Once you’ve lighted the charcoal, do not add more lighter fluid. You might also want to try an alternate method for lighting charcoal, such as a charcoal chimney starter that uses newspaper as fuel.
Once you’re done cooking, close the air vents to let the coals begin to cool. Let coals cool completely before disposing of them in a metal container.
After you grill
Keep your grill clean. Not only will you avoid potential fire hazards, the food you cook will taste better! Scrape down grill grates and clean drip trays. Keep your grill covered to protect it from dirt, insects, and moisture.
Always store propane tanks outside and away from your house.
Maintain your grill, use it safely, and know what to do in an emergency, and you’ll be able to enjoy some good times and good food while grilling this summer. Let us know what time to come over—we’ll bring the potato salad!
Protect your home from fire as well as other perils by buying the right homeowners insurance for your situation. The agents at Lakewood Financial will help you navigate the confusing Florida homeowners insurance market. Please call us at 941-757-4600 or email us for a free homeowners insurance quote. Lakewood Financial is a full-service, independent insurance agency.