Grilling

Murray State University Office of Multicultural Affairs students grill hot dogs to serve to attendees.

MURRAY — The summer grilling season is here, and outdoor cooking and socially-distanced picnic gatherings are a welcome change for families eager to get out and enjoy the warm weather. As families and friends prepare their next outdoor feast, Stephen Gallimore of SERVPRO of LBL North, a local fire and disaster remediation specialist, urges Murray-area property owners to keep some sobering “grilling fire facts” from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in mind. 

• Gas grills, hibachis, and barbeques are involved in an average of 8,900 home fires each year, including 3,900 structure fires and 4,900 outdoor fires. Charcoal or other solid-fueled grills contribute to another 1,300 home fires per year.

• An average of 19,700 patients each year visit emergency rooms because of injuries involving grills. Nearly half (9,500 or 48%) of the injuries are thermal burns from fire (about 4,300) and from contact with hot objects (about 5,200). Children under five account for an average of 2,000 of those contact-type burns.

• July is the peak month for grill fires (18%), including both structure, outdoor or unclassified fires, followed by June (15%), May (13%) and August (12%).

“According to the NFPA, three out of five households own a gas grill – and gas grills are the chief culprit in home grilling fires,” says Gallimore. “And while grill-related fires peak between May and August, nearly half of home grillers use their grill year-round.” 

Gallimore shares the following advice from the NFPA2 with Murray-area homeowners to help ensure that the only smoke coming from their outdoor feast is from their grill, and not from a property fire.

All grills

• Use your propane or charcoal grill outdoors only. Place your grill away from your home or deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

• Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area, and never leave your grill unattended.

• Keep your grill clean. Remove grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill. Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.

Propane grills

• Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. 

• If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.

• If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least five minutes before re-lighting it. 

Charcoal grills

• A charcoal chimney starter uses newspaper as a fuel to start the charcoal. If you use a starter fluid instead, use only charcoal starter fluid. If you choose an electric charcoal starter, make sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.

• Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.

• When you are finished grilling, let the coals cool completely before transferring them to a metal container for disposal. 

“Even if no one is injured, a home fire can be devastating. It can destroy not just property but priceless memories and create chaos in the aftermath,” said Gallimore. “Cleaning-up after a fire can feel overwhelming because it often involves smoke and water damage beyond the damage from the flames. While we hope that these guidelines will help Murray-area homeowners have a safe, fire-free grilling season, accidents can happen. If you do experience a structure fire, our SERVPRO-trained professionals can help get you on the road to normal, managing clean-up efforts and helping with insurance and recovery. When disaster strikes, our goal, always, is to make it seem ‘like it never even happened’.”

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