If you're grilling, gas or charcoal, follow safety tips - Tucson Local Media: El Sol

If you're grilling, gas or charcoal, follow safety tips

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Posted: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 11:00 pm

In at least some parts of America, Memorial Day weekend fires up the cook-out season.

That may or may not be the case in greater Tucson. Regardless, Northwest Fire District is emphasizing safe grilling practices.

For safe outside cooking, the district reminds people that:

• Propane and charcoal BBQ grills must only be used outdoors. Indoors, or in any enclosed spaces such as tents, those fuels pose a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to carbon monoxide poisoning;

• Position the grill well away from siding, deck railing, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches;

• Keep children and pets from the grill area: declare a three-foot "safe zone" around the grill;

• Use long-handled grilling tools and avoid loose, long sleeves;

• Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill;

• If using a charcoal grill, purchase the proper starter fluid and store the can out of the reach of children and away from heat sources. Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited.

• If using propane grills, check the gas cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose should quickly reveal escaping propane by releasing bubbles.

• Never store propane gas cylinders in buildings or garages.

For questions or additional safety information, contact Northwest Fire Life Safety Services at 520-887-1010.

Barbecue safety

The National Fire Protection Association reports:

• In 2003-2006, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 7,900 home fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues per year, including an average of 2,900 structure fires and 5,000 outside fires. These 7,900 fires caused annual average of 10 civilian deaths, 120 reported injuries and $80 million in direct property damage;

• Although gas grills are used roughly 1.5 times as often as charcoal grills, they were involved in five times as many fires. Gas grills were involved in 6,400 home fires, including 2,100 structure fires and 4,300 outdoor fires;

• One-third of the home structure fires involving grills started on an exterior balcony or unenclosed porch, 18 percent started on a courtyard, terrace or patio, and 11 percent started on an exterior wall surface;

• Flammable or combustible gas or liquid was the item first ignited in half of home outdoor grill fires.

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