Backyard cookouts have long been one a treasured summer pastime for many New Englanders. As the word implies, the centerpiece of any “cookout” is the act of preparing a delicious meal for guests, which is typically done on a charcoal or propane grill. Grilling not only affords the host(s) and guests tasty food, but also is a great option when it is simply too hot to cook indoors.
However, as with any summer activity, it’s best to enjoy grilling safely and responsibly. Every year, thousands of grilling-related fires and accidents occur due to a lack of regard for safety and precaution. Any time one is dealing with fire, he or she should be extremely careful in order to not put anyone at risk. Fortunately, there are a number of ways that one can enjoy their summer from the comfort of their backyard and not the emergency room.
Proper Precautions – Propane Gas
All grills, especially those that rely on propane gas, should be fully inspected prior to use. It’s advised that grill owners check the various connections between the propane tank and the burners. Specifically, make sure the hose leading from the tank to the burners is tight and there are no leaks. Also, inspect the tank itself to make sure there are no leaks are present.
If a leak is detected, call your local service professional for assistance. If, after the professional’s visit the leak is still present, contact the fire department immediately. Keep in mind: gas leaks can slip through inspections performed by the human eye. If you smell gas while the grill is in use, immediately turn it off, and move yourself and others far away from the grill before calling the fire department.
Proper Precautions – Charcoal
For charcoal grills, most incidents arise as a result of mishandling lighter fluid, chimney starters and the disposal of the charcoal after it has been used. Use lighter fluid sparingly and apply from a safe distance. Flames will often rise up after lighter fluid is added. There are various types of lighter fluid – only use products intended for charcoal grills. Chimney starters make the process of heating the grill simpler and quicker, but are not always handled properly.
One mistake that many charcoal grill owners make is being impatient. Charcoal grills inherently take longer to heat up, which causes some people to touch the charcoal to make sure it is hot enough, or get a better look at the charcoal. Don’t do either. As a rule of thumb, the charcoal is hot enough when it becomes a light gray color. Until then, give the grill time to heat up.
Lastly, wait a couple of hours or longer to dispose of the charcoal. Close the grill’s vents to expedite the process. Always dispose of the charcoal in a metal (and not plastic) container.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Whether you are cooking with a propane or charcoal grill, you should be sure that the grill is placed well away from the home, any railings or overhanging tree branches or shrubs. Also, while it is somewhat of a no-brainer, grills should only be used outdoors. Once the grill is lit and you begin cooking your hamburgers, hot dogs and steak tips, be sure that guests – most notably children and pets – are far away from the grilling area, which is ideally a space with limited foot traffic. Moreover, the grill should never be left unattended while in use.
Grilling safety is all about common sense and taking the proper cautions to ensure yourself and your guests enjoy responsibly. For more grilling safety tips visit the National Fire Protection Association’s website.
If you have sustained grill-related injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence, contact Attorney Wayne Resmini today for a free consultation.