If baseball is America's favorite pastime, then outdoor cookouts are a close second. It’s so common that 7 out of 10 adults in the U.S. own a grill or smoker. A cookout which brings people with a shared love of smoked meats and good weather together, can also bring along safety concerns or even house fires. In fact, from 2014–2018, fire departments went to an annual average of 8,900 homes due to grill fires.
1. Make sure your grill is stable
Before preparing your meat or main dish, it’s important to make sure your grill is sturdy and stable. Only set up your grill on a flat surface to ensure it will not tip over and cause a fire. You can also place a grill pad or splatter mat underneath your grill to protect your deck, patio or any other area you are grilling on.
2. Wear the proper clothing
Nearly half of injuries involving grills are thermal burns, so make sure to protect your skin with the proper clothing like aprons, long sleeves and grill mitts. That said, loose articles of clothing can easily catch on fire, so make sure apron strings are tied back and other clothing items do not hang over the grill or near open flames. Flame resistant aprons are made of materials that resist burning and melting and are a great idea to wear while grilling to prevent burn injury.
If a piece of clothing does catch on fire, use the “stop, drop and roll” procedure to extinguish the flames and lessen your risk of burn injuries.
3. Observe proper ignition protocols
Always leave the lid on your grill open when igniting it. Keeping the lid closed can cause a quick buildup of gas, which can lead to an explosion. If you’re using a gas grill that does not light right away, turn off the valve and burners and leave the lid open for five minutes before trying again. Since gas is heavier than air, it will need time to clear from the bottom of the cookbox before you relight it.
There are several different types of grills out there, so be sure to read up on your grill’s specific ignition protocols before starting it up.