For many Americans, summer means firing up the grill and serving up the barbecue. And why not? Grilling makes flavors more intense; it caramelizes sugars, gets juices flowing and brings out character, texture, and aroma. But all that heat and sizzle, while quick and convenient, also poses certain dangers.
Some inflammatory statistics from the National Fire Protection Association: fire departments respond to close to 9000 home fires every year caused by gas grills, charcoal barbecues and hibachis. More than 19,000 patients head to emergency rooms annually because of grill-related burns or other injuries. Gas grills are more popular than charcoal and account for the vast majority of structure and outdoor fires caused by careless users.
Taking a few simple precautions can prevent your barbecue from getting overheated. Here are a few tips that amount to best practices for grill gurus.
Trying to grill inside is a bad idea, obviously. Yet a surprising number of fires and asphyxiation incidents are caused by people trying to use an outdoor cooking source in enclosed premises. Experts recommend keeping your grill at least ten feet from any building; don’t park it next to deck rails, carports, hanging baskets, trees, or other structures that could be ignited by a flare-up.
Keep it clean
Grease fires are one of the biggest hazards of outside grills. The more grease and debris you allow to build up in your grill, the more likely you are to have one. Scraping down grill trays, removing the cinders and ash below, and giving the whole system a degreaser treatment from time to time is the best way to avoid seeing your next burger feast go up in flames.
Don’t pack too much food on the grill
Keeping the amount of grease-spitting items piled onto the grill at a manageable level is another great way to reduce the number of grease fires. Just because you can stuff four packs of brats on your new double-wide griller isn’t a reason to do it.
Look for gas leaks before you grill.
Gas grill connections are designed to be snug and safe, but over time the couplings and hoses can develop leaks. When you change tanks or at the start of a grilling season, it’s a good idea to inspect the system for leaks. All you need to do is spray or brush on some soapy water at the connections and along the hose and see if bubbles appear.
Dispose of used charcoal properly
Not-quite-snuffed embers stuffed into a paper bag is a recipe for a dumpster fire. Transfer your ashes to a metal container; don’t put out for trash collection until you’re sure there are no live ones in the bunch.
Keep the right tools on hand
Like any artist, a barbecue chef needs a proper work space and the right tools – metal spatula, tongs, oven mitts, and so on. Some experts suggest a spray water bottle can be useful for cooling down sudden flames, but keep in mind that water should not be applied to grease fires. A fire extinguisher (or a bucket of sand) within easy reach is an excellent idea.
Are you one of those hosts who’s trying to play barbecue master, bartender, social media overseer, and deejay all at once? It only takes a few seconds for a grill fire to get out of hand or for children to wander too close to the heat. Never leave the grill unattended.
Easy on the lighter fluid
We’ve all seen cartoons or comedy sketches that revolve around someone dousing a charcoal barbecue with too much fuel, then lighting a match, producing a massive explosion. Unfortunately, it happens in real life, too.
Wear the right clothing
Avoid the flimsy and highly flammable. That canvas apron protects against more than just barbecue sauce. It’s also a heat shield.
Allow for a cooling-off period
Once the grilling is done, be sure to shut off all burners — and give the apparatus time to cool down before tidying up around it.
THE CONSUMER SAFETY LAWYERS AT FDAZAR
For more than thirty years the attorneys at Franklin D. Azar & Associates have helped thousands of injured people obtain complete and timely compensation for their losses. Our proven track record and expertise have allowed us to grow into the largest personal-injury law firm in Colorado, with offices in Denver, Aurora, Thornton, Fort Collins, Greeley, Grand Junction, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. Please call the consumer safety attorneys at FDAzar day or night at 720-372-2824 or contact us here for a free consultation and no-obligation evaluation of your case.