Stay Safe this Grilling Season

It’s summer, which means grill season has almost reached its peak. Although you may already know how to grill safely, taking all the necessary precautions, we figure a refresher course is always a smart call. Here are the best ways to help avoid accidental fires and injuries, so you can beat back blisters and enjoy the BBQ.

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Fire Safety

Between 2007 and 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 8,800 home and outside fires involving grills each year, according to the National Fire Protection Agency. To keep accidental fires at bay follow these fire safety tips:

Think about the placement of your grill. Be sure your grill — be it propane, gas or charcoal — is at least 10 feet away from your home, shrubs and deck railings, suggests the Home Safety Council. This will help keep ash and embers away from nearby objects that could potentially catch fire.

Stay close by. It’s important that the grill master always stands close to the grill. Leaving it unattended could result in a fire that could quickly get unruly.

Maintain your grill. Before any barbecuing, be sure your grill is clean. Removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill can help to prevent flame flare-ups, the NFPA suggests.

  • Propane grills: Check the gas tank for any leaks, especially if this is the first time you’re grilling since the winter months. To do so, brush a soap and water mixture (about a 50/50 ratio) on to the grill’s gas hose; if there’s a leak, there will be a release of bubbles. If you do see bubbles, your grill may have a gas leak. Turn off the tank, leave the grill where it is, and have a grill service professional come out to repair it, the NFPA suggests.
  • Gas grills: Check the connection between the propane tank and the fuel line to be sure it’s not leaking and is properly functioning, according to the Home Safety Council.
  • Charcoal grills: If you do use a starter fluid, only use a charcoal starter fluid, or try to grill without it.  Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire. And, once you’re done grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing them in a metal container, according to the NFPA.

Avoiding Grill-Related Injuries

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, emergency rooms treated an estimated 3,800 injuries related to gas or charcoal grills in 2010. Burns were the most common injury, but some people were treated for effects of carbon monoxide.

Follow these tips from the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association to help avoid injuries:

Keep an eye out. While you’re manning the grill, you’ll want to be sure children and pets aren’t too close to the hot zone.

Wear grill-safe clothes. Likely you’ll be in your tank top and shorts when you’re grilling, but just be sure you don’t have any hanging frills or strings that can accidentally catch fire. If you do wear a grill apron, keep the strings tied up and not dangling. And don’t forget the best part of your grilling attire — your flame-retardant grilling mitts.

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Use the correct utensils. When grilling, be sure to use cooking tools with long handles, such as tongs, grilling forks and an oversized spatula. This will help to keep your distance from the heat and help to avoid splatters and burns.

Stay in control. If a flare-up happens, adjust the temperature of the grill to a lower setting, or if you’re grilling on a charcoal grill, spread the coals out evenly. If you are still experiencing large flames, remove the food and spray a light squirt of water onto the grill.

Be prepared. When grilling, it’s important to remember the Boy Scouts’ motto. Flames can get out of control in mere seconds, so have baking soda and a fire extinguisher nearby to control a grease fire, or if you’re roughing it, a bucket of sand and garden hose could help to contain a small grill fire.

Now that you’re caught up on the ins and outs of grilling safety, get outside and get grilling! After all, there’s not much better than a summer barbecue with friends and family.

This post comes from the editors of The Allstate Blog, which helps people prepare for the unpredictability of life.