HCN News & Notes

Heed These Grilling Safety Tips to Prevent Accidents and Injuries

SPRINGFIELD — There’s nothing like a backyard barbecue on a beautiful summer day, but it’s important to remember that grills can also cause serious damage and injuries if not used safely.

According to the National Fire Protection Assoc., U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 10,600 fires involving grills each year, and nearly 20,000 people seek medical care annually because of grill-related injuries, about half of which are burns. With that in mind, the experts at Rocky’s Ace Hardware stress the importance of grill safety.

“We are big fans of the grilling lifestyle, but it’s only fun if it’s safe,” Rocky’s Ace Hardware President Rocco Falcone said. “This starts with having a working fire extinguisher on hand every time you grill. Hopefully, you’ll never need it, but you’ll be glad it’s there if you do. Remember, water doesn’t work on a grease fire, so a nearby hose is not enough.”

Falcone said ongoing grill maintenance is a key safety factor. He recommends doing a thorough grill inspection at the start of the season to look for rust, cracks, or damage to the fuel line and other parts.

“Address any issues you find before you fire up the grill,” he said. “That may mean buying replacement parts or a whole new grill, depending on the extent of the problem.”

A deep clean at the start of the season, and then regular cleaning after every use, is also advisable.

“Not only will your food taste better on a clean grill, but you’ll head off potential hazards as well,” Falcone said. “Based on the type of grill you have, empty ashes and unburnt coal, check for clogs on burners and in tubes, and thoroughly clean the grease pan. Depending on how often you use the grill, check these items periodically throughout the year.”

When it comes to the grates, Falcone advised cleaning them before and after each use. “There are a variety of tools designed for this, including wire brushes and scrapers,” he said. “If you opt for a wire brush, be sure to inspect the grill carefully afterward to ensure none of the wire bristles remain on the grill, as they can be very harmful if they attach to food and are swallowed.”

To prevent flareups, Falcone noted that best practices include trimming excess fat from meats, keeping the lid open when searing high-fat foods, leaving space on the grill to move food away from a flareup, and avoiding grilling in windy areas.

In terms of grill placement, Falcone advised choosing a flat, open area at least 10 feet from the home or other structures. “Never grill in your garage, even with the door open, or on a covered patio,” he said. “Also, never leave a grill unattended, and make sure children and pets stay at least 10 feet away.”

In closing, Falcone reminds people to familiarize themselves with their grills and follow the instructions for each model as well as any safety recommendations. The experts at Rocky’s Ace Hardware are available to answer questions and offer advice when needed.