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State fire marshal reminds residents to pay close attention to safety while grilling

Gas grills contribute to hundreds of serious burn injuries and fires in U.S.

Published: Monday, July 14, 2014 2:50 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, July 14, 2014 2:54 p.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD – The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) has released a series of grilling safety tips and is reminding residents to think of safety first in order to prevent incidents leading to fires and serious injuries while cooking with gas grills.

“While grilling can be a fun activity during summer time, it could also post a potential risk for serious injuries or fires if basic safety steps are not followed,” said State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis. “Outdoor cooking involves much more than just dusting off the grill. It’s important to inspect gas lines and other features on the grill to ensure safety while cooking meals.”

In 2013, in Illinois 91 fires were ignited by grills, according to OSFM data. The most current report from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), indicates that in U.S. gas grills were involved in an annual average of 7,200 home fires between 2007 and 2011. An additional average of 1,400 home fires involved the use of charcoal or other solid-fueled grills during the same period.

The OSFM offers the following grill safety tips:

• Propane and charcoal BBQ grills must only be used outdoors. Using grills in an enclosed space could expose occupants to toxic gases and potential asphyxiation.

• Position grills well away from siding, deck railings, and out from under eaves and tree branches.

• Place the grill at a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic.

• Keep children and pets away from the grill area.

• Designate a three foot “safe zone” around the grill.

• Use long-handled grilling tools for plenty of clearance from heat and flames.

• Remove grease or fat buildup in trays below grill.

• Do not apply aerosol sun screen lotion before grilling. Read the instructions as some sun block lotions may not be used near heat or flame.

• Never leave the grill unattended.

Safety tips for charcoal grills:

• Purchase the proper started fluid and store the can out of reach of children, and away from heat sources.

• Never add charcoal fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited.

• Never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to start a grill fire.

• When done grilling, wet coals and make sure they are completely cool before disposing.

Safety tips for propane grills:

• Check the gas cylinder hose for leaks before using for the first time each year. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will quickly reveal escaping propane by releasing bubbles.

• If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least 15 minutes before re-lighting it.

• If a gas smell is detected while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.

• Use only equipment with the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.

For more information about grilling safety, visit www.sfm.illinois.gov.

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