Now that the summer season is kicking off, it’s time to get back in the grilling groove. According to the National Fire Protection Association, gas and charcoal grills cause more than 8,000 house fires each year. Before firing up the grill, homeowners should consider these safety tips:
- Grills should be located no closer than 10′ (3m) from any structure. Never use a grill under a porch, deck, overhang, carport, or in a garage. Make sure the grill rests on a stable surface and can’t be tipped over. In California, there are specific regulations that were adopted in 2008 which restricts the use of open flame grills in multi-unit buildings (apartments and Condominiums with greater than two units). Here is a brief summary of the rules and a more in-depth FAQ pdf is on-line and available here.
Open-Flame Cooking Devices: It is not acceptable to operate a charcoal barbeque unit on a combustible (e.g., wood) balcony or within 10 feet of combustible construction, including the surrounding walls and overhang. It is acceptable to operate such a barbeque on a balcony if the balcony, deck, overhang, and adjacent walls are of non-combustible construction, or if the balcony is protected overhead by an automatic fire sprinkler system. It is okay to store a charcoal barbeque unit on a combustible balcony.
- Never use a propane or charcoal grill indoors.
- Check hoses and connections on gas grills periodically throughout the grilling season. Replace any cracked or brittle hoses before using the grill. Propane cylinders should never be stored inside a garage or other structure at any time.
- Start charcoal fires using a chimney starter instead of charcoal fluid. Not only is a chimney starter safer, but your meal will taste better. If charcoal fluid is used, never add it to the coals once the fire has been lit.
- Once the grill is lit, never leave it unattended. It can take just a few seconds for a serious fire to erupt.
- While lighting and cooking on the grill, do not wear clothes that are loose-fitting or that have wide sleeves that could catch fire. Use long-handled utensils to handle food while cooking. Wear close-toed shoes while at the grill – you can always change to flip flops later.
- Control flare ups by lowering the heat on a gas grill. On charcoal grills, remove the food from the grill and distribute the coals more evenly. If necessary, a flare up can be put out with water from a spray bottle, but remove food from the grill first to avoid smoke contamination.
- To help prevent grease fires, remove any accumulated grease and residue from inside the lid of the grill at least every 5-6 uses. Baking soda can be used to extinguish a grease fire still contained within the grill unit.
Always keep young children and pets away from the grill during and after cooking. The grill’s exterior can remain hot long for a long time.