-Fires and burn injuries caused by grills are not strictly a summer phenomenon; nearly half of home grillers use their grill year-round. Local San Luis Obispo fire damage and disaster remediation specialist Joseph Powers of SERVPRO of San Luis Obispo offers safety tips to help outdoor chefs prevent fires and burn injuries.
“Charcoal and gas grills, barbeques and the like account for an average of more than 5,000 structure fires each year and almost 5,000 additional outdoor fires,” said Powers. Beyond that, Powers adds, grilling accidents result in 19,700 trips to the hospital annually. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that burns account for 9,500 of those visits, and children under the age of five account for an average of 2,000, or 39%, of those burns.
The NFPA recommends taking the following steps before starting to grill:
- READY: Clean grill racks and grease trays. For gas grills, check the gas tank hose for leaks at the beginning of the season.
- SET: Choose a safe, firm, level spot for the grill away from coolers, running children and pets, and mingling guests. Grill outside, never in a garage or under the awning on a deck, the eaves of your home, or low-hanging branches.
- GO: Prepare the grill for cooking carefully. For charcoal grills, use a charcoal chimney with newspaper, a charcoal starter fluid, or an electric charcoal starter plugged into an outdoor-rated extension cord. For gas grills, open the lid before turning the grill on. If you smell gas after the grill is lit, do not try to move the grill. Get away from the grill and call the fire department.
Powers knows that families can take steps to protect their home from damage and their family from injuries and still enjoy home-grilled, summer meals. “Safety is always first,” said Powers, the San Luis Obispo fire damage professional.
While grilling, the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (HPBA), recommends:
- SAFE ZONE: Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the hot grill, both while you are cooking and after you serve the food. Grill surfaces can remain hot for an hour or more.
- SAFE TOOLS: Use long-handled grill utensils in good condition; avoid loose, flowing clothing; and wear flame-retardant mitts to adjust vents to help prevent burns.
- SAFE COOKING: Keep the fire under control. Manage flareups by adjusting grill height, using grill controls, or spreading out the coal bed. Keep baking soda within reach to control grease fires. Watch for blowing embers and have a fire extinguisher, a garden hose, or a bucket of sand handy to extinguish spark-triggered fires. Never attempt to move a hot grill.
“Home fires can be devasting, financially and emotionally. Smoke and water damage add to the destruction,” says Powers, the San Luis Obispo fire damage remediation professional. “While our SERVPRO-trained professionals are here to help you recover ‘Like it never even happened’ if you do experience a structure fire, we believe that prevention is better than a cure.
SERVPRO specializes in fire and water cleanup and restoration services and repair services, helping to remediate damage for both commercial and residential customers. Founded in 1967, SERVPRO is a leader and provider of fire and water cleanup and restoration services, mold mitigation, and biohazard remediation. SERVPRO’s professional services network of more than 1,900 individually owned and operated franchises responds to property damage emergencies ranging from small individual disasters to multi-million dollar large-loss events. Providing coverage in the United States and Canada, the SERVPRO system has established relationships with major insurance companies and commercial clients, as well as individual homeowners.