Tahoe Chief’s Corner: Safety is key when using barbecue grills | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Chief’s Corner: Safety is key when using barbecue grills

A barbecue grill placed too close to anything, or a grill without proper care, is a fire hazard.
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TRUCKEE, Calif. — One of the most exciting things about summer is getting the barbecue out of storage and grilling up your favorite meal.

It’s one of the most popular ways to cook food and is a great summertime activity when socializing with family and friends.

However, a grill placed too close to anything, or a grill without proper care, is a fire hazard.


Nationally, fire departments respond to an average of 5,700 fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues each year.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) of grill fires occur between the months of May and August. It is estimated that annual property loss due to grill fires is $37 million.

Thirty-three percent (33%) of home grill structure fires start on an exterior balcony or unenclosed porch. Hundreds of people sustain injuries attributable to grill fires each year.

By following just a few simple steps, you can ensure that your grilling activities are safe.

Sources: Federal Emergency Management Agency and National Fire Incident Reporting System.


Propane and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors.

The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings, eaves, and overhanging branches.

Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat build-up from the cooking surface and trays below the grill.

Be extra cautious with charcoal grills. Use only charcoal starter fluid to light the charcoal. Never add additional charcoal starter fluid after the fire is already going.

When cleaning out ashes from a charcoal grill, allow them to completely cool in a metal container before disposing of them. Never place ashes in a paper bag.


Before using your grill for the first time each year, check the gas tank hose and fittings for leaks.

This can be done by applying a light soap and water solution to the hose and fittings. A propane leak will create bubbles in the solution.

If you suspect that your grill has a gas leak, by either smell or soapy bubbles, turn off the gas tank. If the leak stops by turning off the gas tank, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department for assistance.

Mark Shadowens is chief of the Northstar Fire Department. Visit northstarcsd.org/fire.html to learn more.

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