grill safety tipsWith summer officially here, many people across the country look forward to grilling in their backyards. While this annual tradition makes for some tasty meals, it also increases the risk of house fires and burns.

In 2012, 16,900 people were treated in emergency rooms for injuries caused by grills. In 16 percent of house fires involving grills, something that was too close to the grill caught fire. One out of every five reported grill fires involved a leak or break. Gas grills cause more house fires than charcoal grills.

If you are planning to use a grill this summer, it is important to take the time to inspect it first and to follow these safety tips.

Before using a propane grill, check the connection points between the propane tank hose and the regulator and cylinder and where the hose connects to the burners. Tighten any loose connections.

To check your propane grill for leaks, use a spray bottle or brush to apply a solution of soap and water to the hose. Turn on the propane tank. If there is a gas leak, you will see bubbles around the hose. If you don’t see any bubbles, the grill is safe to use. If you do see bubbles, turn off the tank, check the connection, and have the grill serviced by a professional before using it. If the leak doesn’t stop when you turn off the tank, call the fire department right away.

Only use a propane or charcoal grill outdoors. Place it a safe distance from your house, deck railings, eaves, and overhanging branches. Keep children and pets away from the grill. Remove grease or fat buildup from the grill and trays below the grill. Never leave the grill unattended when it is on.

If you are using a propane grill and smell gas, turn off the gas tank and burner. If the leak stops immediately, have the grill serviced by a professional. If you continue to smell gas, move away from the grill and call the fire department. Don’t try to move the grill.

You can get a charcoal grill ready to use by using newspaper or starter fluid as fuel. If you decide to use starter fluid, use fluid specifically for charcoal. Never add charcoal starter fluid or any other flammable liquid to a fire. Electric charcoal starters do not use fire. Use an extension cord outdoors. After you have finished grilling, allow the coals to cool completely and then dispose of them in a metal container.