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Grilling Safety – A Firsthand Account

Summer brings with it many warm weather activities, and many of us look forward to these activities all year! Warm weather and grilling go hand in hand. We all see the “grilling safety” PSAs, and if you are like me, you glance over at them with an “it’s never going to happen to me” attitude. Well, it happened to me. What follows is my account of how a nice evening of summer grilling took away my family home.

 

Tuesday, July 12th, 7 PM – I had just finished grilling two hamburger patties on the grill on the deck, took the patties off, turned the grill off, and proceeded downstairs to enjoy my meal. Approximately 15 minutes later, I headed back upstairs to take care of my dish. As I was heading to the kitchen, I heard what I thought was water running—I wondered if I had left the hose on in the backyard, and as I opened the patio door to look to my left, I saw the grill in flames.

 

Flames were shooting straight up from the propane tank. I began wrapping my brain around how else to put the fire out and where an extinguisher might be. I realized that there was one in the motorhome, and as I was about halfway between the house and the motorhome, I heard the second propane tank erupt. The flames had engulfed the back patio by then. The time was approximately 7:19. At that point, shock set in, and I called 911.

 

Firefighters arrived around 7:28 and fought the blaze. There are no words to describe the feeling of seeing your home burn. Fire crews put the blaze out fairly quickly, and no one was injured or hurt  & my rotten chihuahua Norman is safe; but our home has extensive fire, smoke, and water damage.

 

On our all-brick home, there will be new roofing (it collapsed); the entire home’s main level and basement will be gutted, along with new plumbing, electrical & drywall. Upon completion, it will practically be a brand-new home.

 

There will be a blog on our website and updates on our Facebook for anyone interested in our journey to rebuild our home. I will try to post videos, photos, and the learning knots we receive along the way. In the meantime, below are some essential home grilling tips.

 

SIX TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR HOME WHILE GRILLING OUTSIDE

 

  1. Choose a safe location.

Ideally, place your grill at least ten feet away from the house or any adjacent structure. Keep away from any combustible materials like flammable deck rails. Never use a grill inside a tent, in a garage, or near a vehicle.

 

  1. Make sure your grill is stable.

Before putting your meat on the grill, check if it has a sturdy stand or is stable enough. This can be life-saving, especially when kids run around or pets play near the grill area.

 

  1. Check for propane leaks.

Simply apply a water and light soap solution to the hose and turn on the gas. You will know if there is a propane leak because the solution will bubble. This is an alternative to checking for a gas smell near the grill.

 

  1. Dress appropriately.

Avoid wearing frilly clothing, and make sure that your apron strings, sleeves, and shirt tails do not hang loose over the grill. Shield the grill from the wind and keep the lid closed to keep the heat from escaping.

 

  1. Clean your grill.

Grease fires and flare-ups are totally preventable. One of the most important things to ensure safety is also one of the most basic; clean your grill! Check the surface for drippings and make sure the grease traps are free from build-up.

 

  1. Be ready for emergencies.

Keep baking soda close by. For an added layer of protection, keep a bucket of sand nearby. Use this, not water, to put out a fire properly. These two are your reliable fire-busters, especially when a fire extinguisher is not available or is not easily accessible.

 

PLEASE keep your grills AWAY from the structure of your home! PLEASE make sure the grease trays are clean! PLEASE make sure you clean out the bottom of the grill! Grill fires are serious. They can, and do, happen in just a matter of minutes. Please don’t let what happened to us happen to you when it is 100% preventable.

 

Ryan, Andy and Christine

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