Grill with care during Memorial Day Weekend, firefighters’ association warns
Saturday, May 24, 2014 - 4:29 pm

With Memorial Day Weekend swiftly approaching, many St. Lawrence County residents will be firing up their grills for the first time in months, but the state firemen’s association is urging grillers to use care.

The Firemen’s Association of the State of New York is offering tips that can help prevent grilling accidents.

“Everyone should take extra precautions to make sure that accidents don’t ruin what should be an enjoyable time for family and friends,” said Firemen’s Association of the State of New York President Jim Burns. “It is extremely important when gatherings include children, that adults establish a kid-free zone around the grill of at least three feet.”

In 2006-2010, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 8,600 home fires involving grills, hibachis, or barbecues per year, including an average of 3,600 structure fires and 5,000 outside fires. These 8,600 fires caused an annual average of 10 civilian deaths, 140 reported civilian injuries, and $75 million in direct property damage.

Before grilling:

• 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 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 monitor 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.

While grilling

• 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 flames can easily flash back 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.

Grilling safely

• When lighting your propane barbecue, make sure all the connections are secure and 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.

Post grilling

• 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 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.