The warm rays of the summer sun are more than enough of a reason to get together with family and friends in your own backyard. Picture this: The sun is slowly setting behind you as it creates the perfect “not-too-hot” temperature, and you’re surrounded by good company. You all sit in relaxation as you sip on cool beverages, reminiscing on old times, and sharing stories with one another. What’s not mentioned in this scene painted in your head? The smell of hamburgers, hot dogs, and other delicious meats sizzling on the grill.
Grilling is something that has been around for as long there has been food and fire. One of the reasons people find it fun is because you can grill just about anything — from pineapples and veggies, to steaks and hamburgers. Other reasons why grilling is so much fun is because it gives your food a delicious taste, and it can be much more convenient than cooking indoors. Although grilling is fun, it is also very dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. The National Fire Protection Association states that fire departments respond to around 8,200 home fires annually that involve grills, and from those fires, 15 civilians die each year. Not to mention the 75 million dollars in direct property damage. More than half of those grill fires started on a courtyard, patio, porch, or balcony. As mentioned earlier, grilling can be plenty fun, but it can also be plenty dangerous. Here are some tips and tricks grills to help you so your home doesn’t become a house fire statistic:
- Be sure to keep a fire extinguisher close by in case a grease fire breaks out. If you do not have a fire extinguisher at home, baking soda is also effective. If all else fails, make sure you know where the garden hose is.
- If you’re using a charcoal grill be aware that charcoal produces carbon monoxide. It has no color or scent, so it is difficult to tell when you are at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. To lower this risk make sure to to burn charcoal outside in large open spaces. These fumes exist until the charcoal is extinguished completely and that may take some time. With that being said do not store your grill inside after having freshly burning coals in it.
- Avoid using lighter fluid. Chimney starters are a great alternative to helping you build a strong fire without lighter fluid. Another option is putting in materials that burn easier like wood or paper with your charcoal to get it started. Lighter fluid is a chemical and can give your food strange flavors. If you absolutely must use lighter fluid, be sure to cap it and put it at a safe distance away from the grill, and NEVER put lighter fluid on coals that are already warm.
- If you use a gas grill, be sure to open the lid in case there is gas buildup. Releasing that buildup can help prevent any unwanted flavors, or chemical reactions.
- If you use cords, or use electrical equipment, make sure to keep them far away from the hot grill and walkways.
- Check all hoses, and LP gas cylinders. You’ll be looking for holes, leaks, or any external damage. If fire finds its way to a leaky gas tank, an explosion could be on your hands. A quick way to check if your grill hoses have any holes is to apply soapy water along the hose, and if bubbles are noticeable then it is leaking gas. Make sure to turn off the gas and grill before changing or re-adjusting the hose.
- To avoid burns or other people getting burned keep your children and pets away from the grill area, use long cooking utensils, and never attempt to move the grill when it is hot.
Remember these tips when starting your summer cookouts to help you and others around you stay safe. Now that you are prepared and informed, head outside and enjoy some delicious meals on your grills!