Fire safety doesn’t stop when you step outdoors. While summer is the perfect time to savor the flavors that grilling provides, it also is a time to maintain safety practices to avoid fires. How many fires? An average of 8,900 home fires a year, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), which notes that three out of five households own a gas grill.
July is the peak month for grill fires (17 percent), including both structure, outdoor or unclassified fires, followed by May, June and August, according to the NFPA. Failure to clean the grill was the leading factor contributing to the fire in 19 percent of all grill structure fires, followed by something that could catch fire being too close to the grill (17 percent) and leaks or breaks (11 percent), according to the organization.
The following grilling fire safety tips are offered by the U.S. Fire Administration, which notes that patios, terraces, screened-in porches and courtyards are leading home locations for grill fires:
- Only use grills outdoors, away from siding and deck railings.
- Clean grills often and remove grease or fat build-up.
- Make sure the gas grill lid is open before lighting.
- Have a three-foot safe-zone around grills and campfires. Keep children and pets clear of the area.
- Dispose of coals after they have cooled in a metal can.
- Never leave grills, fire pits and patio torches unattended.
Safe food handling outdoors
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers the following tips to prevent foodborne illness:
Wash hands: Wash hands well and often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom and before cooking or eating.
Keep raw and cooked food separate: Don’t use a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood for anything else unless the plate has first been washed in hot, soapy water.
Only marinate food in the refrigerator: Never reuse marinade that contained raw meat.
Cook food thoroughly: To kill any harmful bacteria that may be present, remember to pack and use a food thermometer. Hamburgers should be cooked to 160 degrees, chicken to at least 165 degrees.