Provided by Prince William Fire & Rescue
Summer has finally arrived, and so have the continuous advertisements of outdoor cooking equipment and the variety of foods one can purchase for grilling. In a 2015 survey conducted by the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (HPBA), 75% of adults in the U.S. own a grill or smoker, and approximately three out of five (62%) households that own a grill own a gas grill, while 53% of grill households own a charcoal grill. Although grilling occurs throughout the year, July is the peak month for grilling fires. No matter the type, size, style or method of cooking, when using a grill, one should take necessary steps in learning how to safely grill to avoid fires, burns or worse.
The majority of outside or unclassified grill fires (40% or two out of every five) started on a courtyard, terrace, patio, an exterior balcony or open porch as did 27% of home structure fires involving grills. Eighty-three percent (five out of every six grills) involved in home fires were fueled by gas and 13% by charcoal or other solid fuel.
Key Findings — In 2014,
- 16,200 patients were treated in emergency rooms involving grills:
- More than half (8,700) injuries were thermal burns
- Children under the age of five accounted for 1,600 or one-third of the 4,900 thermal non-fire grill burns.
Leading factors in outdoor grill fires were:
- Something that could catch fire was too close to the grill
- Unattended cooking
- Leak or break in the grill (primarily gas grills)
- Failure to clean
To prevent fires and grill-related injuries, Prince William County Fire & Rescue Chief Kevin McGee advises residents to follow these simple safety tips:
- Propane and charcoal BBQ grills must only be used outdoors.
- Position the grill well away from siding, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
- Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and foot traffic.
- Keep children and pets away from the grill area:
- Declare a three-foot “safe zone” around the grill.
- Never allow children to grill.
- Provide the chef with several long-handled grilling tools to give them plenty of clearance from heat and flames when flipping food.
- Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below the grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.
- Purchase the proper starter fluid and store the can out of reach of children, and away from heat sources.
- Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited to get the fire going.
- Place the coals from your grill in a metal can with a lid once they have cooled and store several feet away from the house and any combustibles.
- Check the gas cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year.
- Use a light soap and water solution applied to the hose. This will quickly reveal escaping propane by releasing bubbles.
Grill Safety for Apartments & Condominiums:
- County code Section 9.1-45 prohibits the use and storage of any device that uses flammables, e.g., gasoline, charcoal lighter, liquefied petroleum gas or propane on a balcony.
- Do Not use grills or smokers within 15 feet of any apartment, condominium or building/structure.
- Constantly attend to the grill or smoker when in use.
For more information on grill safety for apartments and condominiums in Prince William County, visit pwcgov.org/government/dept/FR/fmo/Pages/Grill-Safety-for-Apartments-and-Condominiums.aspx.
For more information on grill safety, visit U.S. Fire Administration at usfa.fema.gov and the National Fire Protection Association at nfpa.org.