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Prioritize safety when grilling this spring and summer

Prioritize safety when grilling this spring and summer

RICHMOND—As temperatures continue to climb, grilling season is heating up. But before barbecue buffs fire up their grills for the first time this year, it’s important that they inspect them first.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the cause of about 5,700 grill fires on residential properties each year is malfunctioning gas grills.

“Grilling is a timeless warm weather activity many Virginians enjoy and look forward to,” said Scott DeNoon, senior farm product and underwriting manager for Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co.

“However, an open flame and the use of gas can create numerous dangers for both the user and their property,” he added. “That’s why it’s important to ensure you’re using your grill properly and are following safe practices.”

To help homeowners and renters avoid sparking grill-related fires, the Insurance Information Institute recommends they thoroughly inspect their grills before each use.

These inspections should include a check of grill hoses to ensure there are no cracks, holes or brittleness, and that there are no gas leaks. Leaks can be checked by using a soap and water solution that will bubble at points where gas could escape.

Additionally, grills should be cleared of any debris or food buildup that may have accumulated from previous uses. Grills also should be covered once sufficiently cooled to help protect parts from weather, environmental debris and insects.

Barbecues should be operated on level surfaces, at least 10 feet away from structures and landscaping such as trees and shrubs. Vinyl siding and wooden decks are especially vulnerable to catching fire, so use extreme caution when grilling in their general vicinity.

Never move a barbecue once it’s lit, and be sure to grill in a well-ventilated area to avoid carbon monoxide exposure.

When grilling with charcoal, use only starter fluids designed for grills. Limit the amount of fluid to avoid flash fires, and never use gasoline to start a grill.

Grill users should protect themselves by wearing a heavy apron and oven mitts that reach over their forearms. Never grill near others, and keep children and pets away from the grilling area.

Lastly, keep a fire extinguisher, hose or bucket of water nearby. And, should a fire occur that cannot be controlled by a fire extinguisher, call 911 and treat any injuries immediately with a first-aid kit.

Additional food safety tips also are available through Virginia Cooperative Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Media: Contact Adam Culler, VFBF communications, at 804-240-6272.