Independence Day festivities are about to kick off, and that means parades, sparklers, grilling out, and maybe some poolside fun. But before you light up the old’ BBQ, here are ten important grilling safety tips, fire safety tips, and pool safety tips to make sure your cookout is a safe one. Because the only sparks we want to see light up the sky better come from the fireworks - not from your home!
1. Start with a Clean Cook Slate
Before you get this Independence Day party started, make sure you're starting fresh. Check that your grill’s cooking surface is clean. Old grease from last month’s grilled chicken is not the safe OR the tasty way to start a new cook flame. So make sure all of your grill’s surfaces have been thoroughly washed and wiped down and ready for those fresh sizzling burger patties (or black bean patties, as the case may be). A clean grill surface will ensure a better-controlled flame which is essential to grilling safety, and will also greatly affect the flavor of the food you’re serving.
2. Tend the Flame
The most important fire safety tip of all is to never leave a flame of any kind unattended, including a grill, even if the lid is down. Out of control flames can take a life of their own much faster than you think, resulting in a fireball. So always keep a watchful eye on what’s cooking. Besides, a little char on your burger is one thing…a black charred mess is another, so keep your eye on the burger prize. Besides, you probably learned the hard way that a medium rare steak can become a well-done tragedy in a matter of seconds. Don’t be THAT guy.
3. Keep Little Hands at Bay
Kids and fire don’t mix. Keep little hands at least three feet from the grill at all times to prevent burns and smoke inhalation that can irritate kids' eyes and lungs. Kids love to help, but a sudden flare-up can cause a serious burn, ruining more than just your Independence Day fun. Same goes for pets. Fido belongs out in the yard playing fetch, not nosing about the grill waiting for scraps. So give the kids and the dog something that will keep them occupied and away from your burger game.
4. Adding Fuel to the Fire
If you’re using a propane grill and you’re having trouble starting a flame or you smell propane, you might have a leak. Carefully inspect hoses connected to propane tanks by rubbing a little soap and water mixture on the connector hose. If it bubbles, you might have a leak. If using a gas grill, never attempt to re-light the grill immediately after the flame goes out. Five minutes is a good lead time to wait before re-lighting a gas grill to avoid a dangerous gas buildup. If using a charcoal grill, be careful how much lighter fluid you add to lit coals. A little can go a long way, so start slow. Kingsford offers some excellent tips on how to start a charcoal grill fire and keep it going steady.
5.. When in Doubt, Don’t Dump it Out! - The Charcoal, That Is
Never dump used charcoal onto a deck surface or near anything that might catch fire, even if the coals appear to be cool. That’s because coal can hold its heat for hours after a fire has died, posing a fire hazard. This is true even if you live in a part of the country where the weather is cool. Don’t risk it! Always empty coals into a metal container to allow to cool for at least 48 hours. Adding water and stirring it carefully into the ashes can help speed up the process. Once cooled the coals can be wrapped in aluminum foil and disposed of in a noncombustible outdoor trash bin.
6. Keep Your Distance
According to the National Fire Protection Association, home fires from grills caused an annual average of ten deaths, 160 injuries and 123 million dollars in property damage Fires caused by grills peak in the month of July when Americans are celebrating the grilling season that kicks off with Independence Day and continues through the summer months. One cause? Not keeping grills far enough away from houses, outdoor furniture, and overhanging structures like awnings and low-hanging tree branches. Make sure your grill has plenty of space and is at least ten feet from your home and other structures before lighting up. While you're at it, make sure you give yourself some personal space, too. Use long grill tools to flip those burgers and zucchinis, and never wear long sleeves or loose clothing that could catch fire.
7. Expect the Best, Prepare for the Worst
Best case scenario? You grill the world’s juiciest, most flavorful burgers without a hitch. Rare for your buddy Jimmy, a perfect medium pink for yourself, and vegan patties that don’t fall apart for aunt Sarah. Easy peasy. But accidents happen, as we all know, so if you do find the flames roaring higher than you planned, be prepared to put them out. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand for emergencies, and in a pinch, a big bucket of sand to douse the fire. Never try to put out a grease fire with water. Consider investing in a good quality fire blanket as well. Here is a buying guide to some of the best fire blankets on the market in 2019. These are good to keep in the house as part of your family emergency plan, even if you’re not the grilling type.
8. Keep it Covered
Grill equipment that has been left sitting out or stored in a shed may have collected trapped bugs, leaves, or other debris that can become fuel for stray sparks, so always keep your grill covered when not in use. This will also prevent rust damage from rain, which can damage starters and destroy that shiny chef-inspired gas grill you just know makes the neighbors jealous. So keep your assets covered! We offer weatherproof, heavy duty custom covers for all varieties of grills, furniture, mowers and more - that will not only protect your investment but look great, too. And if you’re extra proud of that chef’s grill, you may want to add a personalized logo or your name to the cover. Let them know who the grill master is!
9. Make Pool Safety Tips a Priority
If you’re grilling out poolside this Independence Day (and luck you if you are!) keep in mind some basic pool safety, especially if you have kids around. Never leave kids unattended near water, as drownings can happen in mere minutes. According to the CDC, one in five people who die from drowning is age 14 and under. And ten people per day on average die in the US from drowning deaths that are non-boat related. Let's get these numbers down in 2019 and make sure no one in your family becomes a statistic. One excellent pool safety tip that could save a life is to know the signs of drowning, which, as it turns out, are not what you may think. Children who are drowning won’t be screaming for help or thrashing about in the water, for example. Some of the signs of drowning can be easy to miss, so we did some research for you. Here is an excellent resource that explains exactly what to watch for, and what to do if an adult or a child is drowning.
10. Fire Pits
Fire pits add to the ambiance of any outdoor gathering, especially at night. Gathering around the fire pit with a glass of wine and maybe even some marshmallows to roast? Heaven. Just don’t forget the basic fire safety tips mentioned above, as what goes for your grill is just as important when it comes to a fire pit. Keep the pit 20 feet away from structures and clear from any overhangs, and make sure it's set up on a level surface. Use only wood that’s been seasoned, and keep a fire extinguisher and/or a large bucket of sand nearby to douse any wayward flames. When the party’s over, follow the instructions on your fire pit’s manual to properly put out the fire, as each one varies. Keep in mind water can crack some =, so check carefully. And always us a cover like this one to keep it protected when not in use. Covers and All has fire pit covers in all shapes, sizes, and materials, and you can even customize your cover with a logo.
May the fourth be with you!