Remember to be careful when grilling for holiday
by ELSIE HODNETT
Lighting up the grill to cook hotdogs, hamburgers, steak and makes a cookout fun, but fire anywhere else can make the Memorial Day weekend memorable for all the wrong reasons.

“It is important to remember grilling safety tips so you have a safe and good Memorial Day,” said Pell City Fire Chief Mike Burdette.

Burdette said the location of your grill is very important.

“Don’t grill on a deck because hot embers could fall and smolder,” he said. “You want to place your grill on concrete or a cleaned ground area. A shade tree away from the house is a good shady spot, but make sure you clean up the leaves and other debris in a 10-foot radius.”

Burdette said it is best not to be in close proximity to any structure.

“If you have a gas grill, check and make sure the gas regulator and all appliances are in working order,” he said. “Make sure the eyes on a gas burner are clear of debris, so you don’t have a backup of pressure.”

Burdette said to be careful when using lighter fluid with a charcoal grill.

“You want to make sure to keep children and pets away from the grill,” he said.

The National Fire Protection Association offers the following grilling safety tips:

• Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.

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

• Keep children and pets away from the grill area.

• Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.

•Never leave your grill unattended.

For charcoal grills:

• There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.

• If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.

• Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.

• There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.

• When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

For propane grills, check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department. If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.

The American Red Cross also offers grilling safety tips:

• Never grill indoors—not in the house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.

• Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use, and make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.

• Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire.

• Keep the chef safe by using the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill.

• Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.

• Be ready to close the lid and turn off the grill to cut off the fuel if necessary.

• Keep a fireproof pan under the grill to catch any falling ash or grease.

• Trim excess fat from meat to avoid flare-ups.

•Wash your hands in hot, soapy water before preparing food, after touching raw meat and after any interruptions such as using the bathroom, handling pets, stopping to do something with children, etc.

Contact Elsie Hodnett at ehodnett@dailyhome.com.

© 2013