Did you know that 6,900 home fires were started because of gas grills? That’s not the total number—that’s on average PER YEAR between 2005 and 2009! And if you’re laughing because you use charcoal, this might make you sober up: Charcoal and other solid-fueled grills were involved in an annual average of 1,100 home fires during the same time period.
These are statistics from the National Fire Protection Association, and not ones we just made up to scare you. And with Memorial Day coming up this weekend, we want to make sure our readers are prepared for a safe and happy holiday.
A frequently-asked question: Will homeowners’ insurance cover you if you burn your own house down by accident, i.e. in a barbeque-induced fire? The answer is yes, and we can help you negotiate that path with your insurance company. But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so avoid disaster by using these tips:
- Inspect the cylinder of your propane tank for bulges, dents, gouges, corrosion, leaks or evidence of extreme rusting. Also, examine the hoses on your grill for brittleness, leaks, holes, cracks or sharp bends. If you find any of these problems, please replace the equipment immediately (not the next time you grill).
- Be sure to keep propane tanks upright. Make sure that gas hoses are set well away from dripping grease and hot surfaces.
- Never use cigarettes, lighters or matches near your gas grill, even when you think it’s off. It’s very possible that there is a slight gas leak somewhere in the unit, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
- Propane tanks require sophisticated valve equipment to keep them safe for use with grills. Never try to remove the valve from your propane tank, as this will put in at risk of an explosion. When you’re finished using the grill, it’s imperative that you shut the valve.
- Your propane tank should never see the inside of your home or garage, nor should spare ones ever be stored under or near your grill. You also shouldn’t store other flammable liquids, such as gasoline, near propane tanks. Keeping your barbeque covered when it’s not in use could prevent hazardous situations.
- If you must transport your propane tank for any purpose, be sure you choose a relatively cool day. Keeping containers, or any other grill parts that are under pressure, in a hot car will cause an increase in the pressure of the gas, which could cause an explosion. Don’t be “that guy” in the Home Depot parking lot with a burning truck.
- Never dispose of your propane tank by throwing it in the trash. Check to see if there are municipal programs for collection in your area, or why not refill it? In Orange County, stores like Lowe’s (and even some gas stations) offer a change-out with your empty tank. If your grill uses a disposable tank, take care to use up all the residual gas before discarding it.
Safety for Charcoal Grills
From propane gas leaks to potential carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide, which is highly toxic, which is why you should never burn your charcoal grill inside your home, a tent, a vehicle, or any other enclosed area.
1. Charcoal grills are for the outdoors ONLY! Never fire one up inside an enclosed area. Extinguished coals still produce carbon monoxide, so keep your charcoal grills outside at all times, even when you’re finished grilling.
2. Don’t wear loose clothing, especially long sleeves, while grilling.
3. Charcoal grills tend to flare up, so keep a water spray-bottle or fire extinguisher handy.
4. Use charcoal lighter fluid to light new coals only; don’t use it on coals that are already lit. Don’t be like Homer Simpson and set the whole backyard on fire.
Now, we know it is unAmerican to suggest that you don’t drink while attending to the barbecue. But please try to keep it to beer while you’ve got the fire going, and switch to the rum and cokes after you’ve put the grill well and truly out. We don’t need any fireworks before the Fourth of July!
And if you do manage to have a little “accident” and scorch the side of your house—or worse—please give us a call. We can have your home back to normal in a jiffy! You’ll be back practicing safer barbecueing in no time. Have a wonderful (and safe) Memorial Day weekend, Inland Empire!