With the weather finally warming up while COVID-19 continues to make eating out impractical, more people will be cranking up their grills. Orange Fire Chief Vaughan Dumas urged grillers to be safe while cooking.
“Across the country about seven out of 10 adults have a grill or other outdoor cooking appliance,” said Dumas. “Putting these devices near anything that can burn creates a hazard, and that can really ruin a cook-out.”
While grilling can create some delicious meals, Dumas pointed out that grills also can be a source of problems. Citing statistics from the National Fire Protection Association, Dumas said during the years 2013 through 2017, there was an average of about 10,000 house fires per year involving grills, hibachis, barbecues and so forth. Ten people died, 160 were injured per year and there was more than $123 million in property damage on average each year. About half of the injuries involving grills were thermal burns. About 85 percent of the house fires are caused by gas grills.
“Whether it’s using charcoal, propane or some other fuel, grills cook with open fire,” he said. “Open fire under any circumstances can be dangerous.”
But, Dumas said, by following a few safety tips, grillers can enjoy a delicious meal and stay safe. He offered five important tips that he said applies to all grills.
- Propane and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors and well away from the house, including deck railings, eaves and overhead branches.
- Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
- Never leave the lighted grill unattended.
- Remove grease or fat buildup from the grill and in the trays below the grill.
- Use long-handled tools and avoid wearing loose clothing or clothing with long strings, such as aprons, that could wind up on the grill and catch fire.
In addition, charcoal and propane grills each require special precautions. For instance, starting a charcoal fire is dangerous if not done carefully. Chimney starters use newspaper instead of flammable liquids to ignite the grill. Never add starter fluid, gasoline or other flammable liquid once the fire is started, even if the fire doesn’t appear to be burning well. There are also electric charcoal starters. Use an extension cord rated for outdoor use.
When the food is finished, let the coals cool completely before disposing of them in a metal container. Never put the coals in a plastic container, and never dump them into a trash can with other trash.
With a propane grill, users should check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year by applying a soap-and-water solution to the hose. If you smell gas, turn off the grill and the tank. If the leak stops, have the grill serviced by a professional. If it doesn’t stop, move away from the grill and call the Fire Department immediately. Leaks and line breaks were the primary cause of fires related to gas grills.
If the grill goes out while cooking, turn off the gas and wait at least five minutes before relighting the grill. When done cooking, turn off the gas at the source and then turn off the burners.
“Nothing says summer like a good barbecued dinner and a cold drink,” said Dumas. “Be sure to enjoy your grill safely so we don’t have to come to your cook-out while we’re on duty!”
The Orange Volunteer Fire Association provides fire protection to residents and businesses in Orange and, through mutual aid, surrounding towns. Members receive training in fire suppression, rescue, hazardous materials response, homeland security issues and other emergency services.
Operating strictly with revenues from fundraisers and donations, the Orange Volunteer Fire Department is one of the remaining few all-volunteer incorporated fire departments in Connecticut. Active members are on-call to serve the community on a 24-hour/seven-day basis, responding from stations on Orange Center Road and Boston Post Road.
In addition, the fire company offers public education services including lectures, demonstrations and training. For information about membership, donations or public education, call (203) 891-4703, click on https://www.orangevfd.org/ or find us on Facebook.