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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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’.”