The grilling season is here! While cooking outdoors helps keep heat out of the kitchen and results in some great meals, it also comes with some risks. The Iowa City Fire Department offers several grilling safety tips to keep people safe and help prevent fires, damages, and injuries.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that each year, an average of 8,900 home fires are caused by outdoor grills, hibachis or barbeques, resulting in an even higher number of people who are treated in the emergency room for burns and other grilling-related injuries.

Iowa City Fire Marshal Brian Greer and the NFPA recommend following these grilling safety guidelines:

  • Make sure the grill is clean, as this is one of the leading causes of outdoor grill-related fires. Regularly clean and remove grease or fat buildup from the grills and the trays at the bottom. If using a gas grill, check for leaks, breaks and/or loose connections, too. And don’t use propane or charcoal grills anywhere but outside.
  • Position the grill well away from items that can catch on fire -- your home, deck railing, outdoor furniture, eaves, and overhanging branches. Also, watch your sleeves!
  • To turn on a gas grill safely, first open the lid, then turn on the propane tank, and then turn the knobs to the appropriate heat level and push the igniter button or light the grill. If it doesn’t ignite, first shut off the propane, then turn off the grill, and wait at least five minutes to let the gas properly dissipate before trying again.
  • If using a charcoal grill, use only charcoal starter fluid, and never pour charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids on the fire.
  • Stay near the grill at all times. Never leave it unattended, as this is another top fire hazard.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
  • When turning off a gas grill, turn the gas tank off first, then turn off the burners to keep excess gas from leaking out. If using a charcoal grill, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container. Just to be on the safe side, pour some water over the coals in that container, too.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher close at hand, and be familiar with how to use it

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Date of publication

Friday, June 10, 2016