Safe&Sound: 3 Grilling Dangers That May Surprise You

May is National Barbecue Month, just in time for Memorial Day celebrations across Virginia’s backyards. You probably have a solid knowledge of basic safety practices if you’re the designated family “griller”. Most of us know it’s important to keep kids and pets away from the old barbie and to only use it outdoors to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. But we’ve seen more than a few grilling catastrophes in our decades of home insurance claim scenarios, with a few you probably haven’t heard of. Here are three less known dangers and what you need to know to thwart them! 

 

1.The Ticking Time Bomb

Picture this: you bend over to light your grill like a thousand times before and – BOOM! – there’s a sudden burst of flames engulfing the front of your body. Sounds extreme, but according to the National Fire Prevention Association, there were over 16,600 injuries from gas grill fires in 2014, most from leaking propane. This is often due to the common mistake grillers make of turning the propane on and lighting the grill with the lid shut, allowing a dangerous buildup of flammable gas. Always open the lid before you light the grill and don’t just keep hitting that igniter switch if it doesn’t light the first time. Turn the gas off and wait 5 minutes with the grill lid open before you try again.

But there's another not-so-commonly known cause of explosive grill fires: gas buildup from damaged or loose propane hoses. This leaky danger can sneak up on the most careful homeowner. Here’s how to check for problems:


It’s a good idea to replace your hoses every couple of years. And, check and tighten all the connectors routinely.

2. The Expired Grill Tool 

When was the last time you replaced your grill cleaning brush? You may be shocked to hear a recent study reported over 1,600 visits to the emergency room from 2002-2014 from stainless steel or brass wire-bristle grill brush injuries. Loose bristles from old overused brushes tend to fall off during grill cleaning and end up in the food that’s being grilled, resulting in mouth, throat and even abdominal injuries.

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To prevent this, never scrimp on the quality of grilling tools you buy and pay attention to the wear of your brush. Know when to say goodbye or better yet- just replace your grill brush once a year. I went out and took a picture of mine just for this post and as you can see…guilty as charged! Here's the the warning I noticed on my new grill brush:

3. The Siding Melter

Surprisingly, we’ve seen recommendations that say you only need 3 feet between your grill and your house. Perhaps that’s why the NFPA reports an average 8,900 home grill fires every year. The two leading reasons? Grills left unattended or placed too close to something flammable. We certainly see our share of home claims for this very reason. And as you can see from this claim, it doesn't have to catch on fire to cause costly damage.

Actually, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends using your grill 10 feet or more from any dwelling, including your deck rail, house eaves and overhanging tree branches. And keep close to your grill when you're cooking- your food will turn out a lot better as well!

The same rules apply if you like to grill with charcoal, with one important caveat. Justin, our home claim expert, reminds us that it’s super important to keep cooling briquettes away from flammables and never dispose of them until they are completely cooled- after about 48 hours. 

We've Got You Covered

The good news is that you are protected against accidental grilling mishaps under your standard NNI homeowner’s policy. It covers damage to your home and other insured items like patio furniture, sheds, and decks. That’s why it’s important to keep your policy up-to-date by letting your independent agent know when you build or purchase something for the exterior of your home. Your policy may also cover medical expenses of a guest that’s injured from a grill fire under the liability portion of your policy.

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So, give your grill a good once-over and fire it up this Memorial Day weekend! Why not keep a fire extinguisher close by? The class B, ABC or K fire extinguishers work well for grease fires. That extra piece of mind, along with our tips to avoid these no-longer-hidden grilling dangers, can ensure your family has a Virginia hometown holiday that’s safe and sound! 

 

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