FASNY Offers Summer Grilling Safety Tips

September 27, 2013 Updated May 18, 2011 at 5:15 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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FASNY Offers Summer Grilling Safety Tips

September 27, 2013 Updated May 18, 2011 at 5:15 PM EDT

New York, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- With Memorial Day weekend right around the corner, many people will be hosting backyard barbecues. The Firemen’s Association of the State of New York is reminding residents to follow important fire safety tips so that they can enjoy a safe summer season.

“The outdoor cookout season will soon be in full swing. Unfortunately, a barbecue grill could start a fire if certain safety rules are ignored,” said Firemen’s Association of the State of New York President David Jacobowitz. “It’s important to position the grill far away from siding, deck railings, trees and other flammables. When gatherings involve children, it’s critical that a child-free zone of at least three feet is established around the grill.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2004-2008, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 7,700 home fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues per year, including an average of 3,200 structure fires and 4,500 outside fires.

These 7,700 fires caused an annual average of 13 civilian deaths, 120 civilian injuries and $70 million in direct property damage. Gas grills were involved in an average of 6,200 home fires, and charcoal or other solid-fueled grills were involved in 1,300 home fires. More than one-quarter (29%) of the home structure fires involving grills started on a courtyard, terrace or patio, 28% started on an exterior balcony or open porch, and 7% started in the kitchen.

BEFORE BARBECUING:

• Check your grill thoroughly for leaks, cracking or brittleness before using it.
• Check the tubes leading to the burner regularly for blockages. Check your specific grill manufacturer's instructions.
• Make sure the grill is at least 10 feet away from your house, garage or trees.
• Store and use your grill on a large flat surface that cannot burn (i.e.- concrete or asphalt).
• Don't use grills in a garage, on a porch, deck or on top of anything that can catch on fire. Never use a propane barbecue grill on a balcony, terrace or roof; it is both dangerous and illegal.
• Keep children away from fires and grills. It is a good idea to establish a safety zone around the grill and instruct children to remain outside the zone.
• Before getting a propane cylinder filled, check for any damages to it.
• Never transport or store propane cylinders in the trunk of your automobile.

DURING BARBECUING:

• Keep children away from the grill.
• Don't wear loose clothing that might catch fire.
• Use long-handled barbecue tools and/or flame-resistant mitts.
• Never use any flammable liquid other than a barbecue starter fluid to start/freshen a fire.
• Never pour or squirt starter fluid onto an open flame. The flame can easily flashback along the fluid's path to the container in your hands.
• Keep alcoholic beverages away from the grill; they are flammable.
• Never leave the grill unattended.

BARBECUE SAFELY:

• When lighting your propane barbecue, make sure all the connections are secure, open the lid and strike your match or lighter before turning on the gas.
• Always shut off the propane fuel at the grill and at the bottle after you have finished barbecuing. Otherwise, this will lead to fire hazards, such as leaks and faulty regulators.
• Store your BBQ grill and propane cylinder outdoors.
• Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the safe use, cleaning and maintenance of your grill.
• Test your cylinder for leaks on a regular basis. When testing for leaks, never use matches or an open flame. Use soapy water or a leak detector.
• Store your cylinder away from heat and insert a safety plug on the valve.

AFTER BARBECUING:

• Always follow the manufacturer's cleaning and storing instructions that accompany the grill.
• Keep your grill clean and free of grease buildup that may lead to a fire.
• Never store liquid or pressurized fuels inside your home and/or near any possible sources of flame.

IN CASE OF A BARBECUE FIRE:

• For PROPANE grills - turn off the burners. For CHARCOAL grills - close the grill lid. Disconnect the power to ELECTRIC grills.
• For PROPANE grills - if you can safely reach the tank valve, shut it off.
• If the fire involves the tank, leave it alone, evacuate the area and call the fire department.
• If there is any type of fire that either threatens your personal safety or endangers property, ALWAYS call the Fire Department.
• NEVER attempt to extinguish a grease fire with water. It will only cause the flames to flare up. Use an approved portable fire extinguisher.