As president of MLE Merchandising & Sign Solutions in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, Mike Loftus focuses on building brand identities. Outside of his duties at MLE, Mike Loftus enjoys cooking on his outdoor grill.
Those who cook often on a grill know the importance of cleaning and maintaining their grill. Statistics indicate that unsafe practices led to 9,000 home fires each year. Gas grill accidents caused some 80 percent of these fires, with charcoal grills accounting for the other 20 percent.
The biggest risk when using a gas grill is leaking fuel. To detect hose leaks, wet it with water and light soap; any holes will create bubbles. If you smell gas and the flame is not on, turn off the grill immediately. If the gas smell crops up while you are cooking, call the fire department and leave the area quickly. Avoid moving the grill while you are waiting.
Charcoal-fired grills need the same attention. Keep them at least 10 feet from combustible structures and overhanging trees. As charcoal tends to burn for several hours after cooking, it is necessary to keep flammable material at a safe distance. Moving the grill at this time increases fire risk. Additionally, before loading the charcoal, check the grill for rust holes where charcoal could drop through. Keep starter fluid out of children’s reach and away from flames. Never squirt the fluid on burning coals. If the fire is too low, use fresh kindling and charcoal.
Regardless of type, do not grill on balconies, beneath an overhang, or inside a closed-in space. On cold and windy days, do not wear clothes that may catch fire. Keep the lid down to conserve heat. After cooking, soak charcoal in water and dispose in a metal container. If you want to re-use the coals, shut the lid tight.
Children are particularly at risk for burns. Establish a no-kids zone at least three feet from the grill and hot food. Thirty-seven percent of burns on children under five are related to grills.