For some, the Fourth of July is about parades, fireworks and decking yourself out in your finest red, white and blue. For others, it's all about the grilling..
But before you haul out the propane tanks or sacks of charcoal, keep these simple safety tips in mind.
- If you have a charcoal grill, purchase the proper starter fluid and store the can out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
- Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited.
- Never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going.
- If you have a propane grill, check the cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will reveal escaping propane by releasing bubbles.
- If your grill has a gas leak, follow these steps:
- Turn off the propane tank and grill.
- If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
- If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
- If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.
- All propane cylinders manufactured after April 2002 must have overfill protection devices. These devices shut off the propane flow before capacity is reached, limiting the potential for release of propane gas if the cylinder heats up. Overfill protection devices are identified by their triangular-shaped hand wheel.
- Use only equipment that has been tested in an independent laboratory (it will have a mark). Follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.
- Never store propane cylinders in buildings or garages. If you store a gas grill inside during the winter, disconnect the cylinder and leave it outside.
General grilling safety tips
- Position the grill 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.
- Keep children and pets away from the grill area; declare a 3-foot “safe zone” around the grill.
- Put out several long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames when flipping burgers.
- Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below the grill so it can’t be ignited by a hot grill.