GLOUCESTER — With Memorial Day just around the corner, Chief Eric Smith and the Gloucester Fire Department would like to remind residents of important grilling safety tips when cooking outdoors.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services, fire departments in the state responded to 487 fires involving grills, hibachis and barbecues between 2012 and 2016. These fires caused 22 civilian injuries, three firefighter injuries and $4.5 million in property damage.
“Memorial Day Weekend is a perfect time to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends,” Chief Smith said. “But, it important for residents to put their safety first when operating barbecues or outdoor grills.”
In order to help prevent grilling fires and ensure residents remain safe while cooking outdoors, Chief Smith recommends the following tips provided by DFS:
- Propane and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors.
- Place grills away from the house, deck railings and out from under eaves of overhanging branches.
- Grills should only be used on first floor porches, decks, or patios if there is an outdoor stairway to the ground, or the porch is at ground level.
- Keep children and pets at least 3 feet away from the grilling area. Children should never play near grills or propane cylinders.
- Never leave a burning grill unattended.
Gas Grill Safety
- Make sure the lid of a gas grill is open when you light it. Propane can build up inside and when ignited, the lid may blow off.
- Check that all connections are tight before turning on the gas.
- Clean the grease trap every time you grill.
- Check the propane tank hose for potential leaks by applying a light soap and water solution to the hose using a brush or spray bottle. See if any bubbles appear around the hose. If no bubbles appear, the grill is safe to use.
- If you smell gas while cooking, turn the grill off and move away from it. Call 911 from a safe location. Do not move the grill.
- Store propane cylinders upright in an outdoor, shaded area. Cylinders should not be used, stored or transported where they can be exposed to high temperatures.
Charcoal Grill Safety
- Use only charcoal starter fluid. Never used gasoline or kerosene to start a fire in a grill and never add lighter fluid to burning briquettes or hot coals.
- Always use charcoal grills in a well-ventilated area. Charcoal briquettes emit carbon monoxide, which can be deadly.
- Properly dispose of grill ashes. Allow the coals to burn out completely and then cool for 48 hours before disposal. If you must dispose of ashes before they are completely cooled, thoroughly soak them in water before putting them in a metal container.
Anyone who has questions about grilling safely should contact the Gloucester Fire Department at (978) 281-9760.