According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 70% of adults in the US have a grill or smoker, which translates into a high risk of home fires. In fact, the NFPA reports that almost 9,000 fires each year involve grills or smokers.

With Florida’s year-round warm weather, people make use of their outdoor spaces 12 months of the year. This includes using such things as a grill (gas or charcoal), smoker, and fire pit. This can be a fun way to spend time with family and friends, enjoying tasty foods and treats. However, anytime fire is involved, you need to take steps to keep those fires where they belong. Otherwise, you might experience a dangerous, devastating home fire.

Here are four tips to keep your outdoor time safe and fire hazards to a minimum.

1. Think About Where You Put Your Grill

It is important that your grill (or anything with a fire) be placed in an open, outdoor area. You would be surprised at the number of fires that start because a grill’s flames caught an overhang on fire.

When locating your grill, consider the following:

  • Always be outside. If an accident with a grill happens within your home, the likelihood of damage is much greater.
  • Look up. Check to be sure that the fire is not heating up a structural overhang, awning, trees, or other vegetation.
  • Create space. Grills, smokers, and fire pits should be at least 10 feet from anything flammable, including your home. If a fire does get out of control, you are less likely to have it spread to nearby buildings.

2. Watch Children and Pets

Both children and pets are not aware of the hazards of fire. As they run and play, they can easily knock over a grill, which can lead to a quickly spreading fire. Additionally, small children love knobs and buttons and may be tempted to play with a grill, accidentally turning it on. Finally, pay attention to adults as well, especially intoxicated individuals. The only person who should be close to the fire is the person cooking. Everyone else should stay at least three feet away.

3. Be Cautious Starting a Fire

When starting a charcoal grill or fire pit, many people use starter fluid. Make sure that you only use lighter fluid intended for charcoal grills. You should never use gasoline, kerosene, or other flammable liquids to start a fire. Additionally, do not add lighter fluid once you have a flame. This can cause the fire to run back to the source of the liquid and cause an explosion.

Once you have your fire started, put the starter fluid container away. It should not be close to the source of heat because it can cause an out-of-control fire to spread more quickly or cause an explosion.

4. Are the Coals Out?

If you are using charcoal or firewood for your fire, you need to be sure that the fire is completely out before leaving the area. The NFPA reports that five percent of the grill and fire pit fires occur in someone’s yard or open field – often due to embers not distinguished properly.

To properly dispose of coals and ashes, you need to:

  • Douse with water until the coals are cool to the touch
  • Put coals into a metal container with a tight lid. This container should only contain fire coals.
  • Put the container away from anything flammable.
  • Never put coals into your regular trash can

At Aftermath Adjusters and Consulting, we want you to enjoy your grill, smoker, and fire pit all year long – but we want you to do it safely. Although we are always ready to help you recover from a home fire, our hope is to help you avoid it altogether.