Take steps to grill safely this summer season
Now that summer has taken hold in the region, the grill likely will get a workout.
Even those who don’t eat meat appreciate the flavor good grilling can impart to food, be it a thick steak, rack of ribs or roasting corn and vegetables.
Best to be careful, however, and take some steps in advance to make sure the food is the only thing that comes away with sear marks.
Roughly 8,800 grill fires happen annually in the United States, causing $96 million in property damage and almost 17,000 emergency room visits, according to State Farm Insurance of Michigan and Ohio.
More than 80 percent are caused by malfunctioning or improperly used gas grills, State Farm reports.
With that in mind, experts offer these suggestions for safer grilling:
— Check the gas lines before using. The leading cause of gas grill fires is a fuel line leak or break, so inspect the lines for cracking, sharp bends or brittleness. To test for leaks, apply soapy water to the line with a brush or spray bottle, turn on the propane tank and look for bubbles.
— Grill in well-ventilated areas and always outdoors. Never grill inside a home, tent, vehicle or camper where carbon monoxide can build up.
— Use combustibles cautiously — 18 percent of grill fires result from a grill being too close to combustibles. Keep lighter fluids capped and safely away from the grill. Never add lighter fluid to hot coals. Never use gasoline or kerosene as a starter fluid
— Clean the grill, grates and grease pans to prevent flare-ups.
— Wait 48 hours before disposing of charcoal ashes.
— Create a 3-foot safe zone around the grill, especially if children are near. Those age 5 and younger account for about 37 percent of emergency room visits for contact burns caused by grills. And make sure pets are kept away as well.
— Grill a safe distance from not just buildings but deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
Above all, use common sense and remember humans have a long history of harnessing fire … and getting burned when they fail to respect what it can do. Bon appetite and good grilling.