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How to prevent barbecue fires

If there's one thing the South does well, it's barbecue. Everyone has their specialty. Maybe you're a rib person, or perhaps brisket is more your style. (Brisket is my favorite!)  Maybe you go for charcoal, or you could be a propane convert. Whatever your preference, all barbecues have one thing in common: FIRE!

Each year, barbecue fires injure 7,000 people in the United States. You may think you know better than most--and that could be true. But it could also be that you've just been lucky so far. In today's post, we discuss some basic safety tips for anyone operating a grill:

General

  • Make room: You should never operate a grill in close proximity to anything else. Find an open space--at least 10 feet from your house or garage. Keep people and pets at a safe distance. Also check that there are no hanging tree branches, yard decorations or any other flammable objects in the vicinity.
  • Keep watch: Grill fires often start after the main event is over. Once the food is cooked and the eating has commenced, hot grills are often left unattended. If they come into contact with something flammable--and no one is nearby to notice--it can quickly grow into a fire that can't be contained.
  • Outdoors only: You may have a mini grill and think it's safe to operate inside a tent or camper. This is untrue. Lighting a grill indoors is a serious fire hazard. In addition, the carbon monoxide the grill releases can be lethal in an enclosed space.

Propane-specific

  • If you're using a propane grill, always be sure to light it with the lid open. If you light the gas in an enclosed space, it could ignite into a fireball--which could erupt in your face when you open the lid.
  • Always check for gas leaks before each use. Rub liquid soap over any piping and fasteners. If any bubbles form, it's a sign of a leak.

Remember, anytime you have people over for a barbecue, you have a legal responsibility for their safety. Following these guidelines can help ensure your summer cook-out doesn't end in disaster.

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