By Jeffrey Hutchins – Industrial Hygiene Technical Advisor
Hank Hill, patriarch of TV’s “King of the Hill”, famously said “If you’re having grill problems, I feel bad for you son. I’ve got 99 problems but propane ain’t one.” Data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) indicates that the rest of us might not be so fortunate.
According to a 2016 NFPA report on grill fires[i] , fire departments responded to approximately 8900 home fires each year involving grills, hibachis or barbeques.
These fires caused annual averages of 10 civilian deaths, 160 civilian injuries and $118 million in direct property damage. And much to Hank Hill’s dismay, LP-gas* was a major contributing cause.
Source: “Home Grill Fires” (2016) NFPA. Accessed 10 June 2016.[i]
The most common holidays for grilling are the Fourth of July (76%), followed by Labor Day and Memorial Day (each 62%), so it follows that more grill fires occur in July than any other month.
To avoid becoming one of these statistics, the NFPA and US Fire Administration[ii] recommend the following safety precautions:
- Regardless of fuel source, BBQ grills should always be used outdoors.
- Locate the grill well away (10 feet or more) from combustible material such as the house, deck railings, eaves and overhanging branches.
- Keep children* and pets away.
*Grill contact accounted for 37% of burns seen at emergency rooms in 2014 involving children under five.[iii]
- Keep your grill free from oil & grease buildup, which is a common cause of fires.
- Before lighting your gas grill, use a light soap & water solution to check all gas connections for leaks (appearance of bubbles). Tighten any leaking connections. If the leak will not stop, evacuate the area and call the fire department immediately.
- Whether using a chimney-style starter or charcoal starter fluid, never leave burning charcoal unattended.
- Never add starter fluid or any other flammable liquid to the fire.
- When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.
By following these steps, you can channel your inner Hank Hill in proclaiming “I got 99 problems, but grill fires ain’t one of them.”
* LP-gas = Liquefied Petroleum (Gas) can be either Propane or Butane or a mixture of both.