Outdoor Grilling: The Dangers of Burns and Injuries
During the hot summer months, especially on major holidays like the Fourth of July or Labor Day weekend, millions of people throughout the United States barbeque in their backyard or patio area. Although the grill provides deliciously cooked food for family and friends, it can also be the source of fires, property damage, burns, and even significant injuries.
The U.S. Fire Administration states that approximately 5,700 grill fires occur on private property annually, often caused by malfunctioning gas grills. Every year, these fires have resulted in an average of ten (10) deaths, 100 injuries, and $37 million in damage.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an average of 19,700 patients each year have visited emergency rooms due to grilling-related injuries between 2014 and 2018. Nearly half of the injuries were thermal burns from fires and touching hot objects.
An annual average of 8,900 home fires involved gas grills, including 4,900 outdoors fires and 3,900 structure fires each year. On the other hand, charcoal or solid-fueled grills contributed to 1,300 home fires annually, including a yearly average of 600 outside fires and 600 structure fires.
While the Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued dozens of recalls on grills in the past 10 years due to various issues, many fires and injuries are also caused by human error. Improper use of a grill not only endangers the griller, but also the individuals on the property, or even perhaps other properties nearby.
The following are several safety tips to follow to avoid suffering a serious injury while grilling this summer:
- Set up your grill at least 10 feet away from your home.
- Wear proper attire for grilling, such as an apron and hair tie/hat, so no loose clothing or long sleeves.
- Check the gas lines for any breaks or leaks in the fuel line.
- When you turn on the gas, ensure the lid is open. In contrast, a closed lid will lead to gas buildup inside and cause an explosion when the gas is ignited.
- If there is no flame and you smell gas, shut off the gas tank and service your grill.
- If you smell gas while cooking, contact the fire department immediately and do not attempt to move the grill.
- Keep a water spray bottle nearby for minor flare-ups and a fire extinguisher on hand for anything more serious.
- Never leave your grill unattended
- Never set up your grill underneath a wooden floor.
- Never place backyard or patio decorations near the grill.
- Avoid grilling while intoxicated.
- Always clean your grill since fat and grease buildup cause fires and stuck-on char can increase your risk of cancer if consumed.