Safety tips for grill masters

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- With the summer in full swing, many Airmen are finding themselves grabbing a spatula, grabbing some grub and firing up the grill.
Grilling is a great way to enjoy the outdoors with friends and family, but the dangers that come with it can be serious.
Fred Richards, 1st Special Operation Civil Engineer Squadron fire inspector, says practicing safe grilling tactics could save the good times and possibly a life.
According to a 2012 report from the National Fire Protection Agency, statistics show that gas and charcoal grills were involved in an average of 2,000 house fires annually between 2006 and 2010. The report also cited that28 percent of home structure fires started on a courtyard, terrace or patio and another 28 percent started on an exterior balcony or open porch.
Richards reminds Air Commandos that grills are not the only outdoor cooking devices that pose threats to families and homes.
He recalled a fire he had responded to where a turkey fryer being used outside caught a patio on fire, which then spread to the attached living room. By the time the fire department had been called and arrived on scene, he said they were putting out half a house fire.
“Keep all outdoor cooking devices, grills and turkey fryers, at least 15 feet from all combustibles,” Richards said.
The 1st Special Operations Wing Safety Office and the Hurlburt Field Fire Department offer these tips to ensure everyone’s safety at your next cookout:
• Propane and charcoal barbecue grills should only be used outdoors.
• Inspect the grill for any gas leaks by applying soapy water to the gas hose and connections. Turn on the gas, if bubbling occurs turn off the gas and ensure connections are secure or replace the gas hose before using the grill.
• Inspect the grill for durability and for bee, wasp and hornets’ nest, especially if the grill has been covered.
• Keep grills clean by removing grease or fat build up from grills and in trays below the grill.
• If someone smells gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.
• There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as fuel.
• Keep charcoal fluid out of reach of children and away from heat sources.
• Like indoor cooking, never leave your grill unattended and keep an eye on children and pets.
• Keep all outdoor cooking devices, grills and turkey fryers, at least 15 feet from all combustibles.
• Never consume alcohol while grilling.
• When finished grilling, allow for the coals to completely cool before disposing in a metal container. A good rule of thumb is to let the coals sit for 24 hours or until the charcoal is cool to the touch.
Always make sure the gas grill lid is open before lighting to avoid lighting collected fumes.
“After you add the charcoal and lighter fluid, don’t close the lid and open it up minutes later, add more fluid and then light the coals,” said TSgt Clint Hunt, 1st SOW ground safety technician. “There's a good chance that the fumes will ignite as your attempting to light the grill and you will get burned, potentially bad.”
The Hurlburt Field Fire Department governs their regulations for the base based off of the NFPAs standards, which are outlined in Hurlburt Field Instruction 32-2001.
“The most important thing is to read the owner’s manual,” Richards said. “People just put it together and go to town with it, but they never read the tips in the back of the owner’s manual.”