Each year across the United States, more than 8,000 home fires start with outdoor grilling, but proper attention to safety tips can keep you safe this summer and beyond, Beaufort Fire Department leaders said.
“In the Lowcountry, cooking outside on grills is something we do all year long, but especially in the spring and summer. That’s also when we see more accidents and structure fires resulting from the grills,” said Beaufort Fire Chief Sammy Negron.
Nationally, four out of five families own a grill and barbecue at least once a week in the summer, but that number likely is a lot higher in the Lowcountry, Negron said.
With cookouts and summertime fun ahead, Negron and Beaufort firefighters offered these tips for safe grilling:
• Propane and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors;
• Place the grill away from eaves, porch overhangs or awnings, low-hanging branches and structures;
• Keep children and pets at least three feet away from a hot grill
• Keep the grill clean — and safe — by scrubbing off accumulated grease or fat from the grates and drip pan;
• Never leave a lit grill unattended;
• Never grill inside an enclosed structure such as a garage or shed;
• Be sure the grill lid is always fully opened before lighting the burners;
• If a grill hasn’t been used for several months, check the hose connections and burners;
• Keep a fire extinguisher handy, and know how to use it;
• Review family fire safety procedures at least twice a year, including what to do if there’s a fire while grilling.
If a fire breaks out in your back yard, firefighters urge you to first call 911 before trying to fight it. “We’d rather come deal with the fire and be sure everyone is safe than be called when the whole house is burning and people are trapped inside. That can happen with a grill fire that gets out of control,” Negron said.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, each year 7,100 home fires involve gas grills and 1,200 home fires are connected to charcoal or other solid-fueled grills.