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Fire Safety Tips: What’s Cooking?

Be safe when grilling on your barbecue by following these tips.

Spring is here, and that means so are the outdoor activities, gatherings, and barbecues. As the warm weather approaches, many tend to begin moving their evening dinner preparation from the kitchen to their outdoor barbecue's. But before you do, make sure to understand some basic tips for being safe this summer when it comes to your outdoor cooking plans.

Typical barbecue grills use three main sources of fuel: Charcoal, Propane, and Natural Gas. Despite Natural Gas becoming more common each year, Propane Gas fuels the majority of barbecue grills.

There are some notable differences between Propane and Natural Gas. Propane burns at a higher temperature than natural gas and is stored as a liquid and utilized as a vapor. Propane is heavier than air and therefore, in the event of a leak, will “pool” in low-lying areas such as a basement. Whereas, Natural Gas is piped as a gas and is lighter than air and will rise in the event of a leak.

A few simple tasks that can be preformed to keep your family safe and your summer enjoyable are as follows:

  • Be sure your propane tank is not damaged or showing signs of rust or rot.
  • Check that all hoses are free from wear or cracks and all connections are complete.
  • Prior to use, check the tank and connections for leaks.
  • To check for small leaks, make all the necessary connections, then fill a small spray bottle with liquid hand soap or dishwashing detergent to create a soapy water solution. Spray all the connections and hoses beneath the grill with the soapy water then open the propane tank. If bubbles begin to form around the connections or hoses immediately shut off the propane tank and see if the bubbles stop. If so, have the affected hoses repaired or propane cylinder replaced in an appropriate manner. Otherwise, contact your local fire department for further investigation.
  • Remember to shut off both your propane and natural gas grills as well as there fuel supplies when not in use.
  • Always keep the interior of the grill clean and the grease trap empty prior to use.
  • Never leave your grill unattended or out of sight while in operation.
  • Always place the extinguished ashes from a charcoal grill in a metal bin with a secure lid and never place it near your home or garage.

Finally, do not store or cook with your portable grill close to your house. In the event of a fire or flare up, this will help prevent damage or harm to your home or those inside until firefighters can respond. Following these simple tasks will help prepare you for an enjoyable and safe barbeque season.

Remember not to hesitate to call your local Fire Department in the event of fire or suspected leaks.

For additional safety information visit www.nfpa.org and search grilling.

Brian Galazka is a 12-year veteran of the fire service. He has been employed by the Village Of Garden City in the fire department  Headquarters Company for the past 6 years. He has a BS in Fire Arson Investigation and an AS in Fire Occupational Safety and Health Administration from University of New Haven.

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