Plan a safer cookout

Plan a safer cookout
Posted on 05/25/2022
Everyone looks forward to a backyard barbeque with friends — the sound of kids splashing in the pool, the sight of the Kansas sunset, the aroma of burgers and brats on the grill. Although the Lenexa Fire Department would appreciate an invite, they don’t want to crash the party for an emergency. Instead, they have some safety tips for before, during and after your summer gatherings.

Proper prep

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), July is the peak month for grill fires. The best ways to practice grill safety occur before you even light the fire.

  • Only use grills or smokers outdoors, and keep them at least 10 feet away from siding, deck rails and eaves.
  • Only use a grill or smoker on a sturdy, level surface to prevent it from tipping over.
  • Start with a clean grill — excess grease buildup could start a fire.
  • Visually inspect the grill before lighting to look for cracks or breaks in gas lines.
  • Open a gas grill before lighting to avoid gas buildup that could cause a flash fire when lit.

Party time

Once the grill is lit, one of the biggest safety concerns is burns. According to the NFPA, nearly 9,500 people end up at emergency departments each year due to thermal burns caused by grills. Of those, nearly 40% were children under the age of 5. 

  • Never leave grills or smokers unattended. 
  • Keep a 3-foot safe zone around the grill to avoid injuries to pets and children.
  • Use long-handled tools to avoid placing your hand and arms over the flames.
  • Wear short sleeves or tight-fitting clothes to avoid catching clothing on fire.
  • Never add lighter fluid to coals that are already ignited.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case flames get out of control.
  • Get trained in first aid, and keep supplies on hand to treat minor burns.

Cookout cool-down

The U.S. Fire Administration attributes an estimated $37 million in property loss each year to grill fires. Improperly disposed of coals contribute to this number. 

It can take more than 24 hours for coals to cool completely. Even if they don’t look hot, the center of the coals could still be hot enough to ignite combustible material.

  • Let coals cool completely before disposing of them. Submerging them in water can speed cooling.
  • Dispose of coals in a metal can with a tight-fitting lid used only to collect coals.
  • Store the container outside and away from the home and other combustibles. 
  • Store matches, lighters and lighter fluid where children can’t access them.

Published May 25, 2022