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Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office says Don’t Let Your Summer Barbecue Go up in Smoke

Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office

Tennessee State Fire MarshalNashville, TN – While summer is the perfect time to break out the grill and spend time with family and friends, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) is alerting Tennesseans to the dangers that accompany outdoor grilling season.

From 2013-2017, Tennessee fire departments responded to 200 fires involving grills, hibachis, or barbecues. Those fires resulted in four civilian injuries, three firefighter injuries, and $3.4 million in property damage, according to the Tennessee Fire Incident Reporting System (TFIRS).

Grilling-Related Fires Resulted in Injuries, $3.4M in Property Damages from 2013-17
Grilling-Related Fires Resulted in Injuries, $3.4M in Property Damages from 2013-17

“Grilling and family barbecues are a highlight of summer for many Tennesseans, but those carry risks,” said State Fire Marshal and Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “By taking a few simple precautions, you can ensure a relaxing time outdoors doesn’t include a potentially dangerous fire.”

The SFMO shares the following tips to ensure you and your family have a safe grilling season:

General Grilling Tips

  • Do not wear loose clothing while cooking at a grill.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
  • Never grill/barbecue in enclosed areas – carbon monoxide could be produced. Propane and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors.
  • Make sure everyone knows to Stop, Drop and Roll in case a piece of clothing does catch fire.
  • Call 911 or your local emergency number if a burn warrants serious medical attention.

Propane Grills

  • Before using a gas grill, check the connection between the propane tank and the fuel line. Make sure the Venturi tubes – where the air and gas mix – are not blocked.
  • Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks. To check for leaks: Turn the propane tank on. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose using a brush or spray bottle. If there is a gas leak, the propane will release bubbles around the hose (big enough to see).
  • Once you’ve determined your grill has a gas leak by smell or by administering the soapy bubble test and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and burners. If the leak stops at that point, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak doesn’t stop, call the fire department immediately.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, move away from the grill and call the fire department immediately. Do not move the grill.
  • Do not overfill the propane tank.
  • Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.
  • If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least five minutes before re-lighting it.

Charcoal Grills      

  • Be careful when using lighter fluid. Do not add fluid to an already lit fire because the flame can flashback up into the container and explode.
  • Keep all matches, lighters, and lighter fluid away from children. Teach your children to report any loose matches or lighters to an adult immediately.
  • Dispose of hot coals properly – douse them with plenty of water, and stir them to ensure that the fire is out. Never place them in plastic, paper or wooden containers.

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