Topic: Barbecues & Grills

Date Posted: Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Posted by: Tanya Zanfa (Master Admin)

Make sure your barbecue doesn’t end up in smoke

Make sure your barbecue doesn’t end up in smoke

Summertime and outdoor barbecues just go together. You can usually step outside on a nice summer evening and smell someone nearby cooking something on their barbecue grill. These grills can get hot, causing burns and fires, which average 8,000 per year in the United States. Take a few minutes to make sure your barbecue doesn’t end up in smoke.

Barbecue grills should only be used outdoors. It sounds pretty simple, but in case of rain, I have responded to grills inside garages and inside homes before. And if I responded, you can guess it didn’t turn out too well for the cook! The grill should be placed well away from the home, garage, overhangs, low branches and the direct travel path of kids playing in the yard. Once the fire is going, make sure you have adult supervision at all times for the grill. Use some good common sense about where the heat and smoke will go once the grill is started.

If you like the charcoal grills, make sure you only use charcoal starter fluid, and never use gasoline in its place. Remember: Never add starter fluid to already burning coals. Keep the charcoal starter fluid stored out of the reach of children. There are electric charcoal starters available, which do not use fire, so check out that option. It is an electrical appliance that heats up, so it also needs supervision when in use, and the cord can become a trip hazard. When you are finished grilling, let the coals cool completely before disposing of them in a metal container. (We’ve responded to many fires where coals were placed in a plastic trash can.)

If propane grills are used at your home, check the propane tank hose for any leaks and cracks on a regular basis that may have occurred from dry rot or sun damage. If you suspect a leak, apply a little soap/water solution on the hose and look for bubbles. Repair and replace parts as needed to make sure you have no unwanted gas leaking out of the system. With any grilling, keep the garden hose handy just in case the fire starts to get a little too big for your liking. If you cannot put out the fire, step away and call your Livonia firefighters … we still make house calls!

Fire extinguishers may also be used if a fire gets too large and ignites other combustibles. A good Class ABC-rated fire extinguisher should do the trick. The garage is a great place to keep one of these handy items, so make sure it is within easy reach. Remember, to use any fire extinguisher, remember the word “PASS.” That is the acronym, standing for Pull the pin or tape out of the way, Aim the nozzle at the base of the flames, Squeeze the activation handle/button down, and Sweep from side to side at the base of the flames.

As with so many things, common sense should lead you in the direction of safety. Don’t put off maintenance, and get the grill in good working order. Once you are ready, get the food, call the family and friends, and enjoy the great weather.

Shadd Whitehead is chief of Livonia Fire & Rescue.

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