May is peak grilling season. As the weather becomes warmer and the days become longer, households are preparing to get out of the kitchen and into the backyard for spring and summer barbeques. According to the 2017 Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (HPBA) survey, "State of the Barbecue Industry Report":
- Seven in 10 U.S. adults own a grill or smoker
- Gas is the most popular grill type (64%), followed by charcoal (44%), then electric (9%).
The report indicates the most popular days to grill this season are July 4 (63%), Memorial Day (60%), Labor Day (58%), Father's Day (45%), and Mother's Day (34%). However, the frequency of cooking only during the summer months no longer holds true for the industry has seen a rise in grilling/smoking year round. No matter the time of year or the type, size, style or method of cooking, when using a grill or any outdoor cooking equipment, one should take the necessary steps in learning how to safely cook to avoid fires, burns or worse. The leading factors in outdoor grill fires are:
- Something that could catch fire was too close to the grill
- Unattended cooking
- Leak or break in the grill (primarily gas grills)
- Failure to clean
To prevent fires and grill-related injuries, Prince William County Fire & Rescue Chief Kevin McGee advises residents to follow these simple safety tips:
- Propane and charcoal BBQ grills must only be used outdoors.
- Position the grill well away from siding, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
- Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and foot traffic by maintaining a three (3) foot safety zone around the grill or smoker when in use and during cool down.
- Use long-handled grilling tools to provide clearance from heat and flames when cooking.
- Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below the grill. The grease/fat can ignite from the grill's heat.
- Constantly attend to the grill or smoker when in use.
- Purchase the proper starter fluid and store the can out of reach of children, and away from heat sources.
- NEVER add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited.
- Place the used coals from your grill in a metal can with a lid, once they have cooled, store several feet away from the house and any combustibles.
- Annually check the gas cylinder hose for leaks prior to using it for the first time.
Grill Safety for Apartments & Condominiums
- Prince William County Fire Prevention Code Section 9.1-45, prohibits the use and storage of any device that uses flammables, i.e. gasoline, charcoal lighter, liquefied petroleum gas or propane on a balcony.
- DO NOT use grills or smokers within 15 feet of any apartment, condominium or building/structure.
For more information on grill safety for apartments and condominiums in Prince William County, visit http://www.pwcgov.org/government/dept/FR/fmo/Pages/Grill-Safety-for-Apartments-and-Condominiums.aspx.
For more information on grill safety, visit U.S. Fire Administration at http://www.usfa.fema.gov and the National Fire Protection Association at www.nfpa.org.