While there will likely be fewer gatherings with family and friends this Memorial Day in response to COVID-19, many observances of the holiday this year will likely continue to involve outdoor grilling. Plus, as more people continue to cook at home in the warmer months ahead, many of them will turn to their outdoor grills to prepare and enjoy meals. These factors contribute to an increased risk of home grilling fires. In response, NFPA is reminding everyone to follow basic grilling safety precautions over Memorial Day weekend and beyond.
According to NFPA data, cooking equipment is the leading cause of U.S. home fires overall, annually contributing to nearly half (49 percent) of all home fires. NFPA estimates show that between 2014 and 2018, an annual average of 10,600 home fires involving grills, hibachis, or barbecues, which resulted in 10 civilian deaths, 160 civilian injuries, and $149 million in direct property damage. Gas grills were involved in an average of 8,900 home fires per year, including 3,900 structure fires and 4,900 outdoor fires annually. Leaks or breaks were primarily a problem with gas grills.
July is the peak month for grilling fires, followed by June, May, and August.
NFPA offers these tips and recommendations for enjoying a fire-safe grilling season:
- For propane grills, check the gas tank for leaks before use. (Watch NFPA’s video on how to check for leaks. This footage can be used as b-roll.)
- Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat build-up from the grills and in trays below the grill.
- Place the grill well away from the home, deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
- Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.
- Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grilling area.
- If you use starter fluid when charcoal grilling, only use charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire. When you have finished grilling, let the coals cool completely before disposing in a metal container.
- Never leave your grill unattended when in use.
Best wishes to everyone for a happy, safe Memorial Day weekend!