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Proper Care Is Key To Grilling Safety
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Backyard chefs firing up the grill for another charbroiled feast should never overlook small details that can mean the difference between a delicious, outdoor meal and a safety disaster.
Each year, outdoor cookers cause many injuries to careless cooks or people too near the equipment. People who regularly use barbecue grills or smokers often become so familiar with the equipment and the cooking routine that they forget safety checks.
According to information released by the National Security Institute, about 40 people each year are injured in gas grill fires and explosions. The liquid petroleum gas or propane used is highly flammable. Many fires and explosions occur when using a grill that has been idle for a long time, or using one that was recently refilled or reattached to the system.
At the Consumer Product Safety Commission's prompting, three safety features have been standard on gas grills since 1995. One device limits the flow of gas if the hose ruptures, another allows the grill to be shut off and the last prevents gas from flowing if the connection between tank and grill has a leak.
A few safety precautions can reduce the chances of a grill causing injury.
- Check the tubes that lead into the burner for any blockage from insects or grease and clear any blockage with a pipe cleaner or wire.
- Make sure the grill hoses have no sharp bends and are free of cracks, brittleness, holes or leaks.
- Keep hoses as far away from the heat source as possible, and protect them with a heat shield.
- Replaced damaged connectors so they can't leak gas.
- Check for leaks if gas is smelled and when reconnecting the grill to the gas tank. If there is a leak, turn the gas off immediately and don't light the grill until it is professionally repaired.
Never use a grill indoors and position it at least 10 feet away from the house or buildings. Do not use the grill under coverings such as a garage, breezeway or porch. These locations are tempting in bad weather, but can catch fire from the heat.
Stored gas tanks can be dangerous if not treated correctly. Store upright and outdoors away from the grill. Transport the containers in a secure, upright position, and never leave a filled tank in a hot car or trunk. Heat will increase the gas pressure and may open the relief valve, allowing gas to escape.
Linda Patterson, health education specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said in addition to the risk of fire or explosion, consumers can receive burns from the hot exterior of the grill.
"Burns are classified as first, second or third degree depending on their depth, not on the amount of pain or the extent of the burn," Patterson said.
Cold water is the best emergency treatment for minor burns, as it lowers the skin temperature and lessens the severity of the burn. Run cold tap water over the skin for 10 to 15 minutes. Do not use ice, as this can further damage the skin.
"Do not put salve, butter, grease, oil or ointment on a burn as these do not help heal the burn and can increase the risk of infection," Patterson said. "The juice from an aloe leaf can soothe minor burns after two or three days of healing."
Third degree burns require immediate medical treatment, as do some second degree burns. Visit a health professional anytime there is doubt about the severity of the burn, if blisters break, or if the burn encircles an arm or leg. Among other reasons, seek medical attention for electrical burns, if infection develops or the pain lasts longer than 48 hours.