In light of the devastating recent fire of our local playground, Veterans Park, I started thinking of some of the easiest ways to avoid fires at home. Our kids and countless others will be left without that summer entertainment staple for the rest of the season at least, but watching your home go up in smoke would be even more devastating!
A typical home inspection or conversation with an informed friend or relative will tell you to be careful about faulty wiring, making sure your dryer venting isn't plugged with lint, and to make sure that you use safe practices when cooking in your kitchen. These are all great pieces of advice, but believe it or not a substantial amount of home fires each year start outside. Having witnessed a scary grill fire as a child that almost resulted in a portion of our home catching fire if not for quick use of a fire extinguisher, this is something that I am acutely aware of.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in the United States, more than 160 people are injured each year in barbecue mishaps. Even more staggering, there are over 10,000 home fires a year as a result of BBQ misuse. That doesn't sound like a lot considering the thousands of people who flip burgers on their backyard grills each year. But, you certainly don't want to be one of the victims!
The best way to prevent fire and injury is regular maintenance. Remarkably, few people are even aware that barbecue maintenance is necessary. But, it is.
Every spring, experts say you should clean out the venturi tubes. Those are the little metal pipes that carry propane or natural gas. Pipe cleaners work well, although hardware stores also carry specialized tools for this purpose. The goal is to clean out any built up dirt and debris. Don't be surprised if you find spider webs inside a venturi tube!
Your grills should also be cleaned with soap and water each year, ideally at the end of the season or before you fire up your grill in the spring for the first time. Just scraping them before barbequing isn’t enough! Fat and oils from cooking can build up on grills and harden. If you're getting a lot of flare-ups, this is likely the cause.
Finally, make sure nuts and bolts are tightened regularly, and replace any rusty hardware. Regular use, heat and weather can loosen or weaken bolts, particularly on the frame. Several fires each year are caused by barbecues either tipping over or collapsing.
Note: Thank you to the City of Hamilton for the featured image!