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Outdoor Cooking

Everyone loves a cookout. However, cookouts can lead to tragedy if they are not properly handled.

Here are some safety tips for a happy and safe cookout season:

  • Never use gasoline to start a fire; it is much too dangerous to use on grills.
  • Use charcoal lighter fluid safely. Use only on coals before the fire is lit. If you try to make a fire bigger by adding more fluid, the heat from the coals may ignite the stream of fuel and burn back into the can, causing it to explode in your hands.
  • Try using a U.L. approved electrical starter in place of lighter fluid.
  • Place grills away from structures so they will not tip over or ignite objects above them. One of the biggest dangers with grills is trying to use them on apartment or condominium balconies. This practice is unsafe and against the law.
  • No charcoal cooker, brazier, hibachi or grill or any gasoline or other flammable liquid or liquefied petroleum (for example, propane) gas-fire stove or similar device shall be used or stored on the balconies or within 15 feet of any apartment building or other structures with similar occupancy. However, electric grilles or pre-piped natural gas grilles are permitted on both balconies and patios as long as they are designed or approved for lava rocks or permanent briquettes.
  • Never bring a grill into the home. The carbon monoxide produced by burning charcoal can be dangerous, even deadly, in an enclosed space.
  • Grills should be placed far enough away from any home, structure or combustibles so an adequate amount of air can circulate. A minimum of 15 feet is recommended.
  • Keep a garden hose or a portable fire extinguisher handy in case the fire gets out of control.
  • Keep children and pets away from fires and grills. Grills continue to give off heat long after the cooking has stopped. It only takes a second for curiosity to cause a serious burn.
  • Though coals may appear to be cool, always soak them with water. Coals retain enough heat to reignite for days after the fire. Dispose of grill ashes in a safe fashion. Never place hot ashes in paper or plastic bags or containers. Only use metal containers for hot ashes.
  • Spare propane bottles should be stored outside away from the home. A back-yard shed is a good place.
  • If your bag of charcoal gets wet, leave it in a well ventilated area away from the house. During the drying process spontaneous ignition can occur in confined areas.
  • Very important is the “grill” type lighter. These lighters are propane fueled and are NOT child proof. They present a real fire hazard in the hands of children. They must at all times be kept out of the reach of children.

With a little planning on everyone’s part, this can be a safe summer cookout season for all of us.