Lorene Bartos

Summer is the time for vacations, outdoor parties and grilling. Because approximately 3,800 Americans are injured annually by gas or charcoal grill fires, it is important to be safe when grilling.

Take these  precautions:

* Charcoal should never be burned in a home, tent, vehicle or camper. Even with ventilation, charcoal produces carbon monoxide when it burns. Briquettes continue to emit carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas, until completely used. Do not store a grill indoors with freshly used coals.

* Liquid petroleum (LP) gas, or propane, is highly flammable. Be especially careful when starting the grill for the first time each season. When storing LP gas containers, be sure to store them upright. Never store a spare container near or under the grill or indoors.

Grilling safety tips:

* Grills should be used only outdoors.

* Make sure the grill is level, on a firm non-flammable surface.

* It is recommended not to place a charcoal grill or hibachi on a wooden table or deck.

* Always grill in well-ventilated areas.

* Place the grill a safe distance -- at least 10 feet is suggested -- from siding, deck railing and out from under the eaves.

* Check the tubes leading to the burner for any blockage.

* Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes and leaks.

* Check all parts of the grill for any cracks or damaged parts.

* Clean the grill regularly. Remove grease collected on gas grills.

* Never apply lighter fluid to charcoal that has been lit. The fluid may ignite and the flame follow the stream into the fluid container and explode.

* Keep a spray bottle of water handy.

* Keep a fire extinguisher accessible.

* Use proper utensils allowing the chef to be a safe distance from the grill.

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* Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using the grill.

* Always use the proper starter fluid for starting coals. Never use gasoline.

* Dispose of hot coals in a heavy, non-flammable container. Place a few at a time in the container, then carefully pour water over the coals until they are cool; repeat the process until all the coals are quenched.

* Never put the hot coals container near the house or other items that may catch fire.

Fire pits have become popular for summer activities and parties. Fire safety is also important when using the fire pits.

* Use the same precautions as with an open fire.

* Keep children and pets away from the pit.

* Keep away from flammable materials.

* Do not burn trash, leaves, paper, cardboard, etc. in the pit. Seasoned hardwood is suggested.

 Lorene Bartos is an Extension educator with Lancaster County Extension of the University of Nebraska. Reach her at 402-441-7180; 444 Cherrycreek Road, Lincoln, NE 68528; or lbartos1@unl.edu.


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