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To Your Health

Grilling Safety Tips

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07/01/2010 - Summer is half over...just in time to dazzle friends and loved ones with the skills and talents of open fire cooking that can only be rivaled or previously heralded by Spongebob Squarepants and his krabby patty feats.

Grilling is fun and can offer healthy cooking options, but you must exercise caution.

Gas Grills

Liquid petroleum (LP) gas or propane, used in gas grills, is highly flammable. Fires and explosions occur when cooks first use a grill that has been left idle for a period of time or just after refilling and reattaching the grill's gas container. To reduce the risk of fire or explosion:

Check the tubes that lead into the burner for blockage from wildlife or food grease that never got removed. Use a pipe cleaner or wire to clear blockage and push it through to the main part of the burner. Check for corroding and/or clogged burners, as well.

Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing.

Check gas hoses to ensure they are not near hot surfaces and dripping hot grease. If you can't move the hoses, install a heat shield to protect them.

Replace scratched or nicked connectors, which can eventually leak gas.

Check for gas leaks, following the manufacturer's instructions; if you smell gas or when you reconnect the grill to the LP gas container, immediately turn off the gas and don't attempt to light the grill until the leak is fixed.

Keep lighted cigarettes, matches, or open flames away from a leaking grill.

Never use a grill indoors. Use the grill at least 10 feet away from your house or any building. Do not use the grill in a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or under a surface that can catch fire.

Do not repair the tank valve or the appliance yourself. See an LP gas dealer or a qualified appliance repair person.

Always follow the manufacturer's instructions that accompany the grill.

Store spare containers upright and never near the grill.

Charcoal Grills

Each year people die or are injured from CO fumes from charcoal grills and hibachis used inside.

Never burn charcoal inside homes, vehicles, tents, or campers.

Since charcoal produces CO fumes until the charcoal is completely extinguished, do not store the grill indoors with freshly used coals.

Once the charcoal has been lit, do not continue applying lighter fluid from the can. The vapors from the fluid can cause fire to track back to the can and explode while it is still in your hand.

Remember, only you can prevent grill fires and explosions. And there may not be a second chance gas or lighter fluid is not very forgiving if you get careless. Protect your family, your grill, and your body parts so you can enjoy the rest of the summer and be safe at home.

Randy DeVaul (safetypro@roadrunner.com) is a 30-year safety professional/consultant and emergency response instructor. Comments are always welcome.

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