PRINCETON — The summer weather has backyard chefs dusting off their grills and springing into the long-awaited barbecue season.
But before the first spark is made, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is reminding grillers to pay close attention to safety, especially in June and July, when home fire involving grill accidents occur most often.
According to a 2013 NFPA report on cooking equipment fires, gas grills were involved in an annual average of 7,200 home fires from 2007 to 2011, while charcoal grills were responsible for an annual average of 1,400 home fires.
Whether grillers are using a gas or charcoal grill, it’s important to remember that any type can pose a risk for fires and burn injuries.
On a local level, Princeton Fire Chief Chuck Woolley reported his department has not been called to many grill-related fires in the last couple years.
“A lot of times the fire department will get a call from a passerby who sees large amounts of smoke coming from someone’s backyard and assumes there’s a fire, when really it’s someone burning their food, which can get out of control,” he said.
And a lot of times, Woolley said the grill-related fires are out before firefighters arrive on scene. But fires or no fires, it’s still important to remember common sense rules and take precaution when around the grill.
Woolley reminds grillers to make sure equipment is being operated by an adult and the grill is being used according to manufacture recommendations. It’s also important to make sure all grilling equipment is working properly before firing up and the grill is placed in a well ventilated area, so smoke can dissipate.
Also, make sure charcoal grilling surfaces are not combustible, and remember to store gas grills with the gas tank off the grill. Lastly, never leave a grill unattended; this could result in burning food on the grill or something nearby could easily catch on fire.
Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy for NFPA, urges everyone to have a safe grilling season this summer.
“Propane gas hose leaks or breaks were the leading factors contributing to gas grill fires. It’s good practice to check for damage before using it for the first time each year, and to clean and check the entire grill regularly,” she reminded.
Interesting grill facts provided by the NFPA:
• In 2007-11, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 8,800 home and outside fires. These 8,800 fires caused an annual average of 10 civilian deaths, 140 civilian injuries and $96 million in direct property damage.
• More than one-quarter (27 percent) of the home structure fires involving grills started on a courtyard, terrace or patio, 29 percent started on an exterior balcony or open porch, and 6 percent started in the kitchen.
• In almost half of the home outdoor fires in which grills were involved, the fire started when a flammable or combustible gas or liquid caught fire.
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