COLLEGE STATION – Besides fireworks, nothing says July 4 like a cookout, so to help Texas residents declare independence from fires and other mishaps related to outdoor grilling, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert has offered some advice.
“It’s extremely important that people take extra care if planning to grill outdoors, especially in open areas,” said Dr. Joyce Cavanagh, AgriLife Extension specialist in family development and resource management, College Station. “Three out of four households have an outdoor grill, and cookouts are a favorite activity during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.”
Data from the National Fire Protection Association shows gas grills were involved in an annual average of 7,200 home fires from 2007-2011, while charcoal or other solid-fuel grills were involved in an annual average of 1,400 home fires. In 43 percent of home outdoor fires in which grills were involved, the fire started when a flammable gas or liquid caught fire.
Cavanagh said before making plans for a cookout in a public area, check to see if there’s a burn ban in effect in that area.
“It’s not only dangerous to ignore or defy a burn ban, but there can also be some pretty stiff fines for doing so,” she noted.
Some additional outdoor grilling fire safety tips offered by AgriLife Extension experts and the National Fire Protection Association include:
– Setting up the grill on a concrete surface or on ground where grass and vegetation in the area are trimmed and where there are no dry leaves, brush, mulch piles or other combustibles nearby.
– Placing the grill in an open area away from deck railings, eaves and overhanging branches or other potentially combustible surfaces.
– If using a gas grill, check for leaks and make sure hose connections are tight.
– Placing the grill at least 10 feet away from your house or building, and do not grill in a garage or under a carport or other surface that might catch fire.
– Keeping young children and pets at least 3 feet from the grill.
– Removing any grease or fat buildup from the grill and/or in the trays below the grill.
– Keeping charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
– Never leaving the grill unattended once the fire has been lit.
– Not attempting to move a hot grill.
– Keeping a multi-purpose fire extinguisher within reach.
– Using flame-retardant mitts and grilling tools with long handles instead of household forks or short-handled tongs.
– When finished grilling, letting the coals completely cool before disposing, and use a metal container for disposal.
– If using a liquid propane grill, taking extreme caution and always follow manufacturer recommendations for connecting or disconnecting the tank.
“We want people to be safe during their July 4 holiday cookout, and by following these tips on grilling safety, we feel they can minimize the chance of starting a fire,” Cavanagh said.