Sizzling Summertime Tip: Respect Your Grill

It’s time to refresh your grill skills. Finally, the weather is getting warmer and unless you are a die-hard grill warrior, you have just pulled your grill outside for the season. The grill skills I’m talking about could save your life or at a bare minimum save your skin!

Did you know? (Take this one question quiz)

1)    If the flame goes out on a gas grill, I should

  1. Quick light it up again – I’ve got some grilling to do!
  2. Fan the bad propane odor away and find the matches.
  3. Wait 5 minutes before re-lighting the grill.
  4. Wait 15 minutes before re-lighting the grill.

Did you know the correct response? Keep reading to find the answer and tune-up your summer grill safety skills.

Charcoal lighter fluid is the safest accelerant to use when starting a charcoal grill. Any other accelerant could easily flare up and result in a nasty burn. For a non-chemical start to your fire – use a charcoal chimney available at any grill store (or you handy types can find DIY instructions on YouTube). Take care when starting your grill - 18,000 people head to the ER each year with grill-related burns.

Children under 5 account for roughly 25% of all burns from hot grills. The best way to keep children safe is supervision. There is no substitute for keeping an eye on the kids at all times.

Grill fires cause more than 8,000 house fires a year. Lack of supervision is the top reason a fire can spread. Don’t let your house be an expensive example for others. Other common reasons for grill fires are: worn parts, grease and buildup; grills too close to the house or other flammable objects. Check your local ordinances and your grill owner’s manual for the distance required for safe grill operation.

Use the long-handled grill tools and don’t underestimate the severity of burns from grilling. Remember – your food may smell great – but don’t lean over the grill. Just in case - keep a first aid kit nearby.

One Question Quiz Answer - Before relighting the grill - wait at least 5 minutes and up to 15 minutes for the propane to dissipate - even if the hood is open! Propane is heavier than air and the fireball that results from an explosion deserves respect. Read the grill instructions – I know it’s not an exciting read – but 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree burns are not the kind of excitement you want for your outdoor summer picnic.  

Remember it is up to you to prevent burns and destructive fires sparked by your grill. Take a few extra minutes and save your skin - read your grill owner’s manual. Wishing you a safe summer from the staff at the Trauma Center at Theda Clark Hospital.

By Kathi Hegranes, Injury Prevention Coordinator, Trauma Center at Theda Clark Medical Center, Neenah.