SPRINGFIELD – As the nation prepares to celebrate Independence Day on July 4th, the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) reminds residents to make grilling a fire safe activity. Outdoor cooks should follow basic steps such as inspecting their grills to ensure that all parts are functioning properly before use.
“It’s important to remind residents not to take grilling for granted,” said State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis. “We want to ensure that those in charge of grilling are aware of the safety hazards and take proper precautions.”
In Illinois, nearly 170 fires related to outdoor cooking with grills or hibachis were reported during the last two years. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), gas grills are the leading cause of approximately 7,000 home fires in the United States every year. As a result of those fires, approximately 15 deaths are reported and 120 people suffer injuries.
In December of 2012, an ESPN sportscaster almost lost her life when an explosion caught her clothes on fire after an attempt to reignite her grill. She suffered first and second degree burns to her hands, chest, neck and face. This is a very common habit practiced by many grill cooks, without realizing how dangerous it could be. A lesson can be learned from her story which is shared on the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rs9hq3lVrnE.
The OSFM offers the following grill safety tips:
• Propane and charcoal BBQ grills must only be used outdoors. Using grills in an
enclosed space could expose occupants to toxic gases and potential asphyxiation.
• Position grills well away from siding, deck railings and out from under eaves and
• Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and foot traffic.
• Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
• Designate a three foot “safe zone” around the grill.
• Use long-handled grilling tools for plenty of clearance from heat and flames.
• Remove grease or fat buildup in trays below grill.
• Do not apply aerosol sun screen lotion before grilling. Read the instructions as some sun block lotions may not be used near heat or flame.
• Never leave the grill unattended.
• Purchase the proper starter fluid and store the can out of reach of children, and away from heat sources.
• Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited.
• Never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to start a grill fire.
• When done grilling, wet coals and make sure they are completely cool before disposing.
• Check the gas cylinder hose for leaks before using for the first time each year. A light
soap and water solution applied to the hose will quickly reveal escaping propane by
• If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least 15 minutes before re-lighting it.
• If a gas smell is detected while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.
• Use only equipment with the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.
For more information about grilling safety, please visit the OSFM’s website at www.sfm.illinois.gov or www.nfpa.org/grilling.