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Area Briefing

Safe grilling urged during high-risk months of June and July

The National Fire Protection Association reminds residents to be particularly careful when grilling during June and July — the peak months for grilling fires.

Gas grills constitute a higher risk, having been involved in an annual average of 6,200 home fires in 2004-08, while charcoal or other solid-fueled grills were involved in an annual average of 1,300 home fires, according to the association.

The NFPA offers the following grilling safety tips:

n Use propane and charcoal grills only outside the home — never use them indoors.

n Make sure the grill is positioned well away from the home and/or deck railings and that it is not underneath any eaves or overhanging branches. It also should be far from any lawn games, play areas or foot traffic.

n Establish a child- and pet-free zone around the grill of at least 3 feet.

n Use grilling tools that have long handles, which allows more clearance from the flames.

n Remember to clean fat and grease off the grill and from trays underneath it regularly in order to reduce the risk of it igniting.

n Never leave the grill unattended.

Gas grills:

n Before using the grill for the first time each year, check the gas tank hose for leaks. To do this, apply a light soap-and-water solution to the hose and turn the tank on. If the hose releases bubbles, this indicates a propane leak. If you find a leak, turn the gas tank off. If the leak stops, bring your grill to a professional to be serviced before further use. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.

n Use only equipment bearing the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Use the manufacturer’s instructions regarding assembly, use and proper care of the grill.

n If you smell gas while using the grill, get away from it immediately and call the fire department.

n Do not store propane tanks in houses or garages. If storing your grill indoors during the winter, disconnect the cylinder and leave it outside.

Charcoal grills:

n If using a charcoal chimney to light charcoal for grilling, use a long match to avoid burning your fingers while lighting the paper.

n Never add starter fluid to coals or kindling that have already been ignited, and use only charcoal starter fluid. Never use gasoline or any other flammable liquid.

n Keep charcoal fluid away from heat sources and out of reach of children.

n When finished grilling, wait for the coals to cool completely and then dispose of them in a metal container.

In 2009, roughly 17,700 patients went to emergency rooms because of injuries incurred by grill usage. Of about 9,400 thermal burns, children younger than 5 made up about one-quarter. These occurred most often when children touched or bumped the grill.

For gas grill injuries, about one-third were burns that stemmed from lighting the grill, while gasoline or lighter fluid was a factor in about a quarter of charcoal- or wood-burning grill burns.

For more safety tips, videos, facts and figures, and audio clips, visit nfpa.org/grilling.

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