As the summer quickly approaches so does BBQ and grilling season. Family and friends gather at the house to enjoy food and great company. The smell of sizzling burgers, hot dogs and ribs on a barbecue grill fills the backyard. It’s one of my favorite summertime pleasures. But there can also be danger lurking in and by barbecue grills.

June and July are peaks months for grilling with July being the highest month for grill fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, United States fire departments respond to about 8,800 grill fires each year, resulting in about 140 injuries (not including injuries to firefighters), about 10 deaths (not including deaths of firefighters) and about $96 million in property loss.

Grilling Injuries

Although barbecuing is generally considered safe, it is not uncommon for a beautiful day to be ruined by either yourself, a guest or family member being injured. NBC News reported that The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates about 18,000 people require emergency room treatment from grilling injures each year.

Recently, although not as frequent as fire related injuries, there has been an increase in the number of injuries caused by tiny pieces of wire bristles embedded in grills. The bristles come from brushes used to clean grills. The wire bristles attach to the barbecue food - usually red meat - become embedded in the person’s body, throat and stomach after consuming the food. To prevent this injury, it is suggested that you use a wet durable paper towel to wipe down the grill after using the wire brush.

Flash burns to the face are also very common when grilling. When lighter fluid just isn’t doing its job, people tend to spray the grill with gasoline or kerosene. Then when they light the fire, it flares up toward the person’s face and the individual could get first degree or second degree burns. Another common injury is fingertip amputations from cutting limes, tomatoes, avocados and frozen meat. If the cut is above the fingernail, you can clean the area with soap and water, apply pressure and keep your finger elevated. If the amputation is lower down on the finger, you should do the same as above then get to the ER for suturing. The risk of smoke inhalation is pretty uncommon as you shouldn’t be grilling indoors. If you do suffer from smoke inhalation, you will feel your lips and tongue swell, have a hoarse voice, and difficulty swallowing or breathing. If you feel any of these symptoms, have someone call 911 immediately. Everything has risks but there are a few things you can do to make sure nothing goes wrong during your BBQ time. Here are some safety tips to keep you and your family safe during your cookouts.

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Grilling Safety Tips

  1. Always read the instruction manual.
  2. Never start a gas grill with the cover closed.
  3. Check for leaks in the tank.
  4. Check valve connectors and tubes to make sure everything is working properly.
  5. Don’t leave a grill unattended or overload it with food.
  6. Don’t let children or pets play near the grill area.
  7. Use propane and charcoal grills outdoors only.
  8. Don’t place your grill under a deck, carport or by low hanging tree branches and keep the grill at least 10 feet away from the home.
  9. Know where your fire extinguisher is and how to properly use it.
  10. If the burner doesn’t light, turn the grill off and try again in 5 minutes.
  11. Never store gas containers or flammable liquids under and near a grill.
  12. After the BBQ is over, clean your grill by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below.

Outdoor grill fires can be prevented through grill maintenance and routine product inspection, while keeping in mind the grilling safety tips mentioned above. Have a fun and safe summer!