May and July are the peak months for outdoor grill fires. A recent grilling fire in Seattle provides another reminder to the potential fire hazard associated with outdoor grilling.
Fortunately, there are some simple steps to take to ensure safe outdoor grilling this summer.
- Barbecue grills are designed for outdoor use only. Never barbecue in an enclosed area – dangerous carbon monoxide (CO) can accumulate and be deadly. If you suspect CO poisoning, call 911.
- Set-up your grill in an open area at least 10 feet away from buildings, overhead combustible surfaces, dry leaves and brush.
- Make sure all of the grilling parts are firmly in place and the grill is on a flat surface.
- The Seattle Fire Department recommends the use of one-pound propane cylinders as the least hazardous fuel source for outdoor grills.
- For propane grills, make sure the hose connection is tight and check the hoses for leaks.
- Never leave grills unattended while cooking.
- Keep a three-foot zone around the grill where children and pets aren’t allowed.
- Do not leave starter fluid, lighters or matches within the reach of children.
- Use the proper tools. Long handled barbecue utensils and flame retardant mitts will prevent burns from heat and flame.
- For charcoal grills, avoid adding lighter fluid after the coals are lit.
- For propane grills, turn the grill and fuel cylinder off immediately after grilling.
- For charcoal grills, allow coals to cool for 48 hours before disposing. If you are not able to wait, douse coals with plenty of water, and stir them to ensure that the fire is out. Never place coals in plastic, paper or wooden containers; place in a metal container with a tight-fitting lid.
The use of barbecues in single-family homes, apartments and condominiums is not regulated by current Washington State law. However, apartment building owners and condominium associations, through lease agreements and owner’s association rules, may still prohibit or restrict use of barbecues.