The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department responds to many barbecue fires, several of which have resulted in heavily involved structure fires and burn injuries. Make sure the next time you light up your grill that you do so safely.
Each year in the United States, outdoor barbecue grills cause more than 6,000 fires, more than five fatalities, about 170 injuries and $11 million in damage. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, most of the gas grill fires and explosions are caused by gas leaks, overfilled propane tanks and blocked tubes.
Outdoor chefs can minimize the risk of fire or injury by following some simple but practical safety rules.
General Safety Tips
- Set up the barbecue on a firm, level base in a well-vented area away from anything flammable and sheltered from wind gusts.
- Do not use grills in a garage or other enclosed area where carbon monoxide can build to toxic levels.
- If the bottom of the grill has vent holes, be sure that it also has an ash can to catch burning embers.
- Only use recommended firelighters or fluids to start a barbecue and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- Never spray additional starter fluid onto lighted coals. The flame could travel up the stream of flammable liquid and cause an explosion.
- Never attempt to light a gas grill with the lid closed.
- If a gas grill doesn't light after 10 seconds, turn the burner off and leave the lid open for 2-3 minutes before turning the valve on and trying again.
- To avoid grease fires, clean the grease pan or dripping pan regularly.
- Use a spray bottle to help keep flames from getting too high and burning the meat. Close the lid immediately if flames become too high.
- Keep a fire extinguisher or garden hose nearby, just in case.
- Keep children away from barbecue grills. Mark out a safety line in chalk that children cannot cross.
- For gas grills, use soapy water to check the hoses and connections for leaks.
- Use long handled barbecue tools and flame resistant mitts.
- Don't wear loose fitting clothing that could catch fire.
- Dispose of hot coals properly by first dousing them with water and then stirring them to ensure the fire is completely out.
- Do not put hot coals in a flammable container or keep them inside a garage.
- Always shut off the valve to the propane tank when not in use.
In Case of a Barbecue Fire
- Close the lid on a charcoal grill.
- Turn off the burners on a gas grill.
- If the fire involves a propane tank, leave it alone, get out of the area and call 9-1-1.
- Do not attempt to extinguish a grease fire with water. It will cause the flames to flare up. Use a fire extinguisher.