Summer, Families and BBQ Safety

family and barbecue grillIt’s official, the kids are out of school and summer is here. All the things that happen during the summer will soon be upon us and grilling on the barbeque is certainly on that list. The list of safety precautions for the 4th of July and fireworks is a mile long and will be on every news station for the coming weeks. What will not get too much air time is the list of safety tips for Barbeque grills and the dangers of grilling. Being in the Firefighting profession, I have seen what happens when people take the Barbeque for granted and do not give the grill the amount of respect and preparation it deserves. From terrible burns to adults and children to house fires, grills definitely deserves your attention.

Grilling facts from NFPA

Be sure to use safe grilling practices as the peak months for grilling fires approach – June and July. Gas grills constitute a higher risk, having been involved in an annual average of 7,200 home fires in 2007-2011, while charcoal or other solid-fueled grills were involved in an annual average of 1,400 home fires.

Facts & figures

  • In 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 8,800 home and outside fires. These 8,800 fires caused an annual average of 10 civilian deaths, 140 civilian injuries and $96 million in direct property damage.
  • More than one-quarter (27%) of the home structure fires involving grills started on a courtyard, terrace or patio, 29% started on an exterior balcony or open porch, and 6% started in the kitchen.
  • In almost half (43%) of the home outdoor fires in which grills were involved, half (51%) of the outside gas grills, and 29% of gas grill structure fires, the fire started when a flammable or combustible gas or liquid caught fire.

So while the grill is going and the steaks are on this summer, please remember that you need to be aware of the grill at all times. Now, when the grill and kids are brought together, there is an added level of awareness needed. Kids are naturally curious and that can be very dangerous when a live burning barbeque is involved so when the kids are around it is a good idea to introduce them to the barbeque and establish some safety rules such as a safety zone around the grill and not walking behind the grill and having a zero touching policy.

While at the Trauma center this past year with an adult patient, I met the parents of a 5 year old girl who was in surgery because their daughter had grabbed the grates on the grill and severely burned her hands. The father told me took his eyes off the grill for 1 minute to get a drink and that’s when his daughter went to the grill. It happens that fast.

So please be safe with the grill this summer. Have fun, eat well but be safe.

About the Author

Greg Atwood is a Firefighter /Paramedic in Coral Gables Florida and works for the Coral Gables Fire Rescue. He is an American Heart Association certified instructor in BLS ( Basic Life Support ), ACLS ( Advanced Cardiopulmonary Life Support ), and PALS ( Pediatric Advanced Life Support ). Greg currently lives in Miami Florida with his beautiful wife Alexa and their 2 sons, Connor and Jake. Greg is a former member of the PedSafe Expert team


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