July is the peak month for grill fires, and Westwinds wants you to stay safe while you enjoy cooking outdoors! The potential for fire increases when precautions are not taken while using grills and deep fryers, especially in multi-family dwellings. Outdoor grills are involved in more than 8,900 home fires per year.

Just 2 weeks ago Emerald Bay Condos in the Lake of the Ozarks suffered extensive fire damage which started from an outdoor grill. You can read about that story here.

As we enter a holiday weekend, consider these potential fire hazards that can arise from improper gill use.

  • Windblown grill embers near structures
  • Careless disposal of charcoal briquettes
  • Igniting lighter fluid under porch overhangs
  • Unattended grills that tip over
  • Gas leaks, part failures, blocked tubes, cracked and brittle hose or overfilled propane tanks
  • Proximity to structures or combustibles, such as vinyl siding, wood decks and window coverings around open windows and doors.

Additionally, Iowa City Fire Marshal Brian Greer and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommend following these grilling safety guidelines:

  • Make sure the grill is clean, as this is one of the leading causes of outdoor grill-related fires. Regularly clean and remove grease or fat buildup from the grills and the trays at the bottom. If using a gas grill, check for leaks, breaks and/or loose connections, too. And don’t use propane or charcoal grills anywhere but outside.
  • Position the grill well away from items that can catch on fire — your home, deck railing, outdoor furniture, eaves, and overhanging branches. Also, watch your sleeves!
  • To turn on a gas grill safely, first open the lid, then turn on the propane tank, and then turn the knobs to the appropriate heat level and push the igniter button or light the grill. If it doesn’t ignite, first shut off the propane, then turn off the grill, and wait at least five minutes to let the gas properly dissipate before trying again.
  • If using a charcoal grill, use only charcoal starter fluid, and never pour charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids on the fire.
  • Stay near the grill at all times. Never leave it unattended, as this is another top fire hazard.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
  • When turning off a gas grill, turn the gas tank off first, then turn off the burners to keep excess gas from leaking out. If using a charcoal grill, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container. Just to be on the safe side, pour some water over the coals in that container, too.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher close at hand, and be familiar with how to use it.

For more information on fire safety and grilling, visit the NFPA website.
Enjoy this video from our Iowa City Fire Department on how to grill like a firefighter!