May 13, 2020 – While there may not be as many gatherings with family and friends this Memorial Day, many observances of the holiday this year will likely continue to involve outdoor grilling.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reminds everyone to follow basic grilling safety precautions over Memorial Day weekend and beyond, particularly as people remain at home in response to COVID-19.
“Whether you live in a state where stay-at-home policies remain in place or restrictions are beginning to ease, many people will continue to limit their exposure to the coronavirus, which means a lot more dining and entertaining at home,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy at NFPA.
“As the holiday weekend approaches and warmer weather arrives, more of us will be grilling outdoors, which translates to an increased risk of home grilling fires.”
According to NFPA, cooking equipment is the leading cause of U.S. home fires overall, annually contributing to nearly half (49 percent) of all home fires. NFPA estimates show that between 2014 and 2018, an annual average of 10,600 home fires involving grills, hibachis, or barbecues, resulting in 10 civilian deaths, 160 civilian injuries, and $149 million in direct property damage. July is the peak month for grilling fires, followed by June, May, and August.
Gas grills were involved in an average of 8,900 home fires per year, including 3,900 structure fires and 4,900 outdoor fires annually. Leaks or breaks were primarily a problem with gas grills.
“It’s important to make sure your grill is in good working order and can be used safely, no matter what type of grill you use,” said Carli. “For households that don’t grill during the winter months, now is the time to conduct a pre-grilling inspection and ensure that the grill is clean and functioning properly.”
NFPA offers these tips and recommendations for enjoying a fire-safe grilling season:
•For propane grills, check the gas tank for leaks before use. (Watch NFPA’s video on how to check for leaks. This footage can be used as b-roll.)
•Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat build-up from the grills and in trays below the grill.
•Place the grill well away from the home, deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
•Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.
•Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grilling area.
•If you use starter fluid when charcoal grilling, only use charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire. When you have finished grilling, let the coals cool completely before disposing in a metal container.
•Never leave your grill unattended when in use.