Safety and summer grilling

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Grilling is always popular during warmer months here in Alabama. Whether you use a gas grill or a charcoal grill, you need to keep safety a top priority.

Liquid petroleum (LP) gas or propane, used in gas grills, is highly flammable. About 30 people are injured annually by gas grill fires and explosions. Many of these happen when people use a grill that has been left idle for a period of time or after refilling and reattaching the grill's gas container.

To reduce the risk of fire or explosion, consumers should routinely perform the following safety checks:

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Check the tubes that lead into the burner for blockage from insects, spiders, or food grease. Use a pipe cleaner or wire to clear blocks and push it through to the main part of the burner.

Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes and leaks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing.

Move gas hoses as far away as possible from hot surfaces and dripping hot grease. If you can't move the hoses, install a heat shield to protect them.

Replace scratched or nicked connectors, which may eventually leak gas.

Check for gas leaks, following the manufacturer's instructions, if you smell gas or when you reconnect the grill to the LP gas container. If you detect a leak, immediately turn off the gas and don't attempt to light the grill until the leak is fixed.

Keep lighted cigarettes, matches and open flames away from a leaking grill.

Never use a grill indoors. Use the grill at least 10 feet away from your house or any building. Do not use the grill in a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or under a surface that can catch fire.

Do not attempt to repair the tank valve or the appliance yourself. See a qualified appliance repair person.

Always follow the manufacturer's instructions that accompany the grill.

Consumers should use caution when storing LP gas containers. Always keep containers upright. Never store a spare gas container under or near the grill or indoors. Never store or use flammable liquids, like gasoline, near the grill.

To avoid accidents while transporting LP gas containers, consumers should transport the container in a secure, upright position. Never keep a filled container in a hot car or car trunk. Heat will cause the gas pressure to increase, which may open the relief valve and allow gas to escape.

Consumers should use extreme caution and always follow manufacturer's instructions when connecting or disconnecting LP gas containers.

Grills manufactured after Oct.1, 1995, are required to have three additional safety features to eliminate leak hazards: a device to limit the flow of gas in the event of hose rupture; a mechanism to shut off the grill and a feature to prevent the flow of gas if the connection between the tank and the grill is not leak-proof. Consumers should consider purchasing grills that have these safety features.

Charcoal produces carbon monoxide when it is burned. It is a colorless, odorless gas that can accumulate to toxic levels in closed environments. Each year about 30 people die and 100 are injured as a result of fumes from charcoal grills and hibachis used inside.

To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, follow these safety tips:

Never burn charcoal inside of home, vehicles, tents, or campers. Charcoal should never be used indoors, even if ventilation is provided.

Since charcoal produces carbon monoxide fumes until the charcoal is completely extinguished, do not store the grill indoors with freshly used coals.