Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Outdoor Cooking Fire Safety

The Fourth of July is almost here and many of us will be cooking, or attending events where outdoor cooking will take place. Much like the turkey fryers, outdoor cooking on a gas or charcoal grill can be dangerous, especially when you add alcohol and the presence of children. Being aware of your surrounding is important and staying sober while working near open flames is the smartest way to go.

Gas and charcoal grills are responsible for 3,400 structure fires in or on home properties, resulting in a combined direct property loss of $137 million. Gas-fueled grills caused an estimated 2,800 home structure fires and 4,400 home outdoor fires in 2005. Charcoal and other solid-fueled grills caused an estimated 600 home structure fires and 500 outdoor fires.

Charcoal Grills:

Purchase the proper starter fluid and store the can out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.

Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going.

Propane Grills:

Check the gas cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will quickly reveal escaping propane by releasing bubbles. If you determine your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame:
1. Turn off the gas tank and grill.
2. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
3. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill. (For those who have been in recent classes, remember, do as I say, not as I do......)

Use only equipment with the label of a recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.

Never store propane gas cylinders in buildings or garages. If you store a gas grill inside during the winter, disconnect the cylinder and leave it outside.

Barbecue Safety Tips:

Propane and charcoal BBQ grills must only be used outdoors. If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces such as tents, they pose both a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to toxic gases and potential asphyxiation.

Position the grill well away from siding, deck railing, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and foot traffic.

Keep children and pets from the grill area: declare a three-foot "safe zone" around the grill.

Put out several long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames when cooking.

Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.

Be safe, cook smart and eat well this holiday and every day.


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