It’s summer barbecue season, but beware! It’s also barbecue accident season – when would-be grillers are routinely burned, singed and blistered, and countless homes are set on fire.
According to The New York Times, last year, over 20,000 people in North America either ended up in the ER or died because of grill-related accidents, mostly from serious burns from squirting too much fuel on a grill - or using the wrong kind of fuel, like gasoline. Or because they caught their clothes on fire. Experts say most accidents are caused either by faulty grills – or operator error, like when unsteady grills collapse, dumping hot coals or sizzling food onto legs or laps or when people get blistered feet from stepping on hot fire pit coals. One man in the article even turned on his gas grill, leaving it on when the electric starter didn’t work. When he finally found a match - kaboom! - he got second-degree burns, singed off most of his hair, and started a small fire. So, here’s how to protect yourself this grilling season:
- First, keep your grill at least 10 feet away from anything flammable, like the side of your house, deck railings, eaves, and trees.
- Also, scrub off any grease or fat buildup from grills and drip trays to avoid grease fires, which can shoot flames several feet into the air.
- Experts say you should never add fuel to an already lit fire because the flame can flash up into the container and explode.
- Before starting a gas grill, check for gas leaks by rubbing a film of soapy water over the fuel line. If it bubbles when you turn it on, it’s leaking. So, don’t use it until you get a new hose.
- Also, when you light a gas grill, always keep the lid open to prevent a flash fire from gas build-up.
- Never leave a grill unattended – even for a minute. If the fire flares up – or the grill tips over – you could have a fiery disaster on your hands before you know it.