Grill fires can turn dinner into disaster

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Chef Cooking steak. Cook turns the meat on the fire.

As the summer season approaches, local fire and disaster remediation specialist Robby Cox of SERVPRO® of Lake of the Ozarks knows that the number of grill fires will increase, peaking in July. "Charcoal and gas grills, barbeques and the like are involved in an average of more than 5,000 structure fires each year and almost 5,000 additional outdoor fires," said Cox. Beyond that, Cox adds, grilling accidents result in 19,700 trips to the hospital annually. Thermal burns account for 9,500 of those visits, and children under the age of five account for an average of 2,000, or 39 percent, of those burns.1 Cox knows that families can take steps to protect their home from damage and their family from injuries and still enjoy home-grilled, summer meals. Before you grill:1

READY: Clean grill racks and grease trays. For gas grills, check the gas tank hose for leaks at the beginning of the season.

SET: Choose a safe, firm, level spot for the grill away from coolers, running children and pets, and mingling guests. Grill outside, never in a garage or under the awning on a deck, the eaves of your home, or low-hanging branches.

GO: Prepare the grill for cooking carefully. For charcoal grills, use a charcoal chimney with newspaper, a charcoal starter fluid, or an electric charcoal starter plugged into an outdoor-rated extension cord. For gas grills, open the lid before turning the grill on. If you smell gas after the grill is lit, do not try to move the grill. Get away from the grill and call the fire department.

While you grill: 2

SAFE ZONE: Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the hot grill, both while you are cooking and after you serve the food. Grill surfaces can remain hot for an hour or more.

SAFE TOOLS: Use long-handled grill utensils in good condition; avoid loose, flowing clothing; and wear flame-retardant mitts to adjust vents to help prevent burns.

SAFE COOKING: Keep the fire under control. Manage flareups by adjusting grill height, using grill controls, or spreading out the coal bed. Keep baking soda within reach to control grease fires. Watch for blowing embers and have a fire extinguisher, a garden hose, or a bucket of sand handy to extinguish spark-triggered fires. Never attempt to move a hot grill.

"Home fires can be devasting, both financially and emotionally, because smoke and water damage often amplify the destruction to both the structure and its contents," says Cox. "While our SERVPRO-trained professionals are here to help you recover 'Like it never even happened' if you do experience a structure fire, we believe that prevention is better than a cure. Fires and burn injuries caused by grills are not strictly a summer phenomenon. Nearly half of home grillers use their grill year-round, so it's important to keep these safety guidelines in mind all year long." SERVPRO specializes in fire and water cleanup and restoration services and repair services, helping to remediate damage for both commercial and residential customers.