Over 7,000 home fires occur each year as a result of gas grills! While the “grill master” in your home may think they have everything under control, it is more often equipment malfunction, rather than operator error, that causes a fire to break out. I’m a huge fan of grilled food. In fact, I avoid using my stove/oven at all costs during the summer months and cook most of our meals on the grill. But propane gas, fire, dry air and dry grass combine to make a recipe for disaster if you’re not careful.
ESPN news anchor, Hannah Storm, is a grilling accident survivor. In 2012, wind blew out the flames in the grill, but the gas continued and pooled on the grill. When she tried to reignite the grill, the fireball gave her first and second degree burns over her face, neck, chest and hands. She shares her story on the National Fire Protection Association website, on ESPN and on YouTube in the hopes that it will make others more aware of the potential dangers of dealing with fire and propane.
Even the savviest of grillers may not be aware of a few simple precautions that could save your home from disaster. Hannah Storm is a bright, well-educated individual who happened to make a simple, common mistake. The same could happen to any of us. But some easy prep work can keep this same disaster from happening to you.
- Always grill outside, and keep the grill well away from the house, deck railings, overhanging branches and all furniture.
- At the start of grilling season, check your propane tank hose for leaks.
- The NFPA suggests applying a light soap & water solution to the hose. Turn on the propane. A propane leak will release bubbles. If there are bubbles, turn off the propane immediately. If the leak stops, meaning you no longer smell propane after the gas is shut off, then have your grill serviced by a professional before using it.
- If the leak does not stop, meaning you can still smell propane after turning off the gas, call the fire department and DO NOT TOUCH OR ATTMPT TO MOVE THE GRILL.
- Never use charcoal lighter fluid to try to start a stubborn gas grill. Ever.
- Clean out your grill trays regularly. Make this part of your weekend cleaning routine during the summer. The less greasy substance on or around your grill, the better.
- Keep pets and children away from the grill. Most of us know to keep children away, but a rambunctious pet can knock over a grill and cause tremendous damage. Keep both your pet and your home safe simultaneously by keeping pets inside until the cooking is done.
Lastly, in the words of my husband who is the true grilling authority in our house, “It’s not an oven. You can’t just walk away.” Supervision is always the key with grilling. Stay by the grill at all times while it’s on. And stay safe.
*statistics taken from the National Fire Prevention Association website www.nfpa.org.