With the Labor Day holiday weekend upon us, it’s a popular time for outdoor grilling. It’s one of the most popular ways to cook food, however, a grill placed too close to anything that can burn is a fire hazard. A grill can also be very hot, causing burn injuries.

The Michigan State Firemen’s Association reminds you to follow these simple yet important tips and you will be on your way to safe grilling:

Safety For Kids

1. The grilling area should be designated as a “No Play Zone.”

2. The National Fire Protection Association recommends keeping kids and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.

Gas Grill Ventilation

1. Always keep the lid open when lighting your grill. Don’t close it until you are sure the grill is lit.

2. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends keeping the grill in a well-ventilated outdoor area, at least 3 feet away from trees, shrubs, siding, deck rails and eaves. Keep fire pits, personal fireplaces and torches at least 10 feet from your home or anything that can burn.

3. If you live in an apartment, check with your landlord or local fire department to learn where grilling is allowed.  Many communities prohibit grilling on a deck or balcony.

4. Never cover the bottom of the grill with foil – it can restrict air circulation.

5. Always use and store propane cylinders outdoors in an upright position.

6. After filling or exchanging a cylinder, take it home immediately. While transporting the cylinder, keep your vehicle ventilated and the valve closed or capped. Do not leave the cylinder in your vehicle.

Firing Up The Gas Grill Safely

1. Never use matches or lighters to check for leaks. And never use starter fluid with propane grills.
2. Do not smoke while handling a propane cylinder, and keep all flammable materials away from the grill.

3. If the grill does not ignite within 10 seconds, turn off the gas, keep the lid open and wait 5 minutes before trying again. If the igniter fails to light the grill after two or three tries, turn off the gas and replace the igniter according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

4. Regularly check the tubes that lead into the burner for blockage from insects or food grease.

5. Never attempt to repair, clean or clear blockages on a hot grill.

Inspect Your Grill Brush

1. If you are using a wire-bristle brush, inspect it carefully and discard if the bristles are loose. Tiny bristles that break off on grill surfaces can lodge in food and are ingested, injuring people;

2. Examine the grill grate carefully before cooking and examine food before consumption;

3. Consider alternative grill cleaning methods such as nylon brushes, pumice stones or tin foil and tongs, which can make suitable cleaning devices.

4. Clean your grill after each use. This will remove grease that can start a fire.

For more information, visit Consumer Reports at www.consumerreports.org/food-safety/wire-grill-brush-danger.

Charcoal Grill Safety

1. Be careful when using lighter fluid. Do not add fluid to an already lit fire because the flames can flashback up into the container and explode.

2. Place the coals from your grill in a metal can with a lid once they have cooled.

General Safety Tips

1. Always have one person in charge of the grill at all times. Never leave a hot grill unattended.

2. Do not wear loose clothing while cooking at a grill.

3. Remove grease or fat buildup in the trays below the grill so it can’t be ignited by a hot grill.

4. Never attempt to repair the tank valve or the appliance yourself. See a propane gas dealer or a qualified appliance repair person. Be sure to locate your model number and the manufacturer’s consumer inquiry phone number and write them on the front page of your manual.

5. If you smell gas and you are able to, safely turn off the cylinder vale, turning it to the right (clockwise). Immediately leave the area and call 911 or your local fire department. Before you use the grill again, have a qualified service technician inspect your cylinder.

6. Cool a first or second degree thermal burn with water for 15-20 minutes. Never use butter, creams or ointments since they can seal in the heat and cause continued burning. Seek medical attention as needed.

7. According to the N.F.P.A., gas grills contribute to a higher number of fires than charcoal grills.

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