Grilling season is right around the corner and grill gurus everywhere are preparing for many family parties and barbecues. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) encourages grillers to pay attention to safety during the spring and summer months when home fires involving grilling incidents occur most often.
In 2011 – 2015, fire departments responded to an average of 9,600 home fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues each year. That number included 4,100 structure fires and 5,500 outside or unclassified fires, according to NFPA. These fires caused an average of 10 civilian deaths, 160 civilian injuries, and $133 million in direct property damage per year.
July is the peak month for grilling fires followed by May, June and August. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, 73 percent of consumers grill on the Fourth of July, 60 percent do so on Memorial Day, 58 percent grill on Labor Day, and 45 percent grill on Father’s Day.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Surveillance System, grills caused an average 4,500 non-thermal contact burns in patients seen at emergency departments in 2012 – 2016. Children under five suffered 1,600 or 35 percent of these burns. This type of injury typically occurred when someone bumped into, touched or fell on the grill, grill part or hot coals.
NFPA reminds everyone that all types of grills pose a risk for fires and burn injuries. Place the grill well away from siding and deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches, per manufacturer’s instructions. According to NFPA’s most recent fact sheet, 11 percent of home grill structure fires began when an outside wall caught fire and in roughly one of every five fires, the grill had not been cleaned.
“As grilling season approaches, it is important that grillers review basic safety tips to ensure they are grilling properly and safely,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy for NFPA. “Failing to properly clean the grill or having the grill too close to something that could burn are the leading causes of fires. Good practice dictates that home chefs check for damage before using the grill for the first time each year, and to check the entire grill regularly.”
Propane safety tips
NFPA offers tips for checking damage to propane tank hoses before using.
- Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors
- Children and pets should be at least three feet away from the grill area
- Keep your grill clean by removing grease and fat buildup from the gates and trays below
- Never leave your grill unattended