Summers are great for barbecues, but be sure to practice safety

Published 5:09 am Friday, June 1, 2012

Special to The Post-Searchlight

U.S. fire departments responded to an average 8,200 home fires (2005-2009) involving grills, hibachis, or barbecues per year, including an average of 3,400 structure fires and 4,800 outside fires.

These fire incidents have resulted in an annual average of 15 civilian deaths, 120 reported civilian injuries, and $75 million in direct property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Home Fires involving Cooking Equipment Report.

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“As summer approaches, the threat of grilling fires is becoming more prevalent,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s Vice President of Communications. “Although grilling fires are more common in warmer months, it is important to remember that grilling fires do occur throughout the entire year and simple steps can be taken to avoid them.”

July is the peak month for grilling fires, accounting for 18 percent of all home fires involving grills, including both structure and outside fires. June and May follow closely with 14 percent and 13 percent respectively.

The NPD group reports that more people are grilling all year round, showing that nearly one-third (38 percent) of American households had at least one meal cooked on an outdoor grill in an average two-week period during the year. Even in the winter months of December, January and February, one-quarter (27 percent) had eaten at least one grilled item in a 14-day period.

“Grilling during the warmer months, or throughout the year, is a welcome sight at cookouts,” Carli said. “But fire anywhere else can make your barbecue memorable for all the wrong reasons. By reviewing grilling safety tips this season and taking precautions, you can prevent home grilling fires.”

Other key findings in this report include:

• Five out of every six grills involved in home fires (84 percent) were fueled by gas while 13 percent used charcoal or other solid fuel.

• More than one quarter (29 percent) of the home structure fires involving grills started on a courtyard, terrace or patio.

• In 2009, 17,700 patients went to the emergency room because of injuries involving grills.

• Children under the age of five account for almost one-quarter (22 percent) of all thermal grill burns.


NFPA offers the following safety tips:

• Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.

• The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

• Keep children and pets away from the grilling area.

• Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.

• Never leave your grill unattended.


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About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

NFPA is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building, and life safety. The mission of the international nonprofit organization founded in 1896 is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education. Visit NFPA’s website at for more information.