A summer barbecue or cookout is a classic, timeless activity. Unfortunately, when it comes to cooking tasty meals in the great outdoors, many people forget that they are still playing with fire.
According to statistics from the National Fire Protection Association, 75 percent of American households own at least one grill, smoker or other outdoor cooking device. That means huge potential for accidents. Almost 9,000 house fires are set on average each year from grills. In addition, around 16,600 people were admitted to emergency rooms around the U.S. in 2015 due to a grill-related injury. Most of these fires and injuries are caused by gas or propane-fueled grills, which are the most common type in the U.S.
As boring as it may sound, a successful barbeque requires putting safety first. Fortunately, it's not hard to have a safe grilling outing that's still fun and perfect for a family meal.
As the most common type of home grill, propane models may be billed as safer than wood or charcoal. This doesn't mean that propane-fired grills aren't at all dangerous, as noted by the International Society of Certified Home Inspectors. Propane grills need special attention to be cared for and properly maintained.
Users of propane grills need to make sure they store any spare tanks outdoors in an open area away from buildings or the grill itself. The garage or backyard shed isn't a safe storage area for propane tanks. Before turning the grill on, take care to give it a once-over, checking to make sure the fuel line is secure and everything is relatively clean. Before each grilling session, use a stiff wire brush to scrape dirt and ash off the grates of the grill. This can go a long way toward preventing fires.
For that authentic smoke flavor, there is nothing better than charcoal. These grills are inexpensive and simple to maintain, but still require special safety precautions. Many of the safety precautions for propane grills apply here, but one of the most dangerous aspects of charcoal grills is the act of lighting it. Always use only barbecue starter fluid to ignite the grill, and never pour it on an open flame. Be careful not to use a charcoal grill on a terrace, balcony or deck with less than 10 feet of overhead clearance.
Grilling is a fun summer activity, but only when done safely. Use these basic tips to make every cookout a successful one.