Summer is in its final stretch—the time of year when we savor each swim on a hot day, every iced beverage we sip on a patio, and every opportunity to cook up burgers on the grill. But, when it comes to the perfect barbecue, the best garnish is not just the cheese, lettuce or tomato—it’s also the proper safety measures and the tools to combat unexpected emergencies.
According to the Colorado Division of Fire Safety, more than 150 Coloradans were injured in residential fire-related incidents in 2011—and while these all aren’t the result of grill fires, it bears mentioning that cooking is the number one cause of home fires in the country, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
To help prevent accidents before they happen, here are some grill safety tips I use at home and recommend:
- Keep a safe distance. The Denver Fire Department recommends positioning grills away from siding and deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. Place the grill at a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic.
- Dress to protect. Don’t wear baggy clothing or aprons with frills and strings while cooking, and use flame-resistant mitts when adjusting controls or food on the grill.
- Have proper tools on-hand. Use grilling tools with long handles – think spatulas, tongs and basting brushes – to provide plenty of clearance from heat and flames.
- Stock for safety. Always keep a home fire extinguisher handy and within easy reach of the grill, and make sure the chef knows how to operate it. In a recent study by BRK Brands, maker of First Alert-branded products, 27 percent of Americans reported that their homes are not equipped with fire extinguishers, and more than one-third (36 percent) of those who own a home extinguisher do not feel “very confident” operating it. For an easy-to-use, convenient option, try an aerosol fire spray like Tundra Fire Extinguishing Spray.
- Stay put. Never leave a hot grill unattended, and once lit, don’t attempt to move your grill.
- Keep it clean. Maintain a clean grill by removing all grease or fat buildups from the grill and the trays below the grill.
- Don’t miss regular checkups. Thoroughly check your grill for wear and tear—or dangerous fuel leaks on a propane grill—before each use, paying close attention before storing your grill for the winter. To check for fuel line leaks, apply a mixture of soapy water with a paintbrush along your fuel line and connections. If you have a leak anywhere along the line, the gas will emerge and form new bubbles in the soapy water.
Also, don’t think you have to sacrifice style for safety. In a video posted on their site, The American Society of Landscape Artists Colorado offers some fabulous recommendations for creating the perfect space for outdoor entertaining. Happy grilling!
Guest blogger Debbie Hanson is director of external affairs for First Alert, a trusted brand in home safety products.
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