WA’s fire marshal offers grilling safety tips

June 9 – OLYMPIA – The State Fire Marshal’s Office released an outdoor grilling safety statement on Tuesday as the Pacific Northwest begins to warm.

“While safe when used properly, barbecue-related fires are significant contributors to both property damage and burns,” the statement said. He goes on to say that an average of 10,600 home fires are started each year and 19,700 patients are sent to hospital emergency rooms due to injuries involving grates, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

The state fire marshal’s office is advising residents to take steps to make this barbecue season safe. These steps, as outlined in the release, include:

Establishment :

—Be sure to check with your local fire department for any outdoor burning restrictions or bans.

—Propane and charcoal barbecues should only be used outdoors.

—At a minimum, keep grates 10 feet from fences, exterior house walls, overhanging tree branches, or other flammable materials.

—Make sure the grill is stable and level.

—Before using the grill for the first time each year, check the gas cylinder hose for leaks by applying a mild solution of soap and water to the hose, then turning on the gas. If there is a leak, the solution will form bubbles. If you cannot stop the leak yourself, have it professionally repaired before using.

When lighting:

— Whether cooking with a gas or charcoal grill, always use caution when lighting.

—Always make sure your grill lid is open before lighting.

—When using charcoal, consider using a charcoal fire starter instead of a charcoal lighter and never use gasoline or other flammable liquids other than the fire starter .

When cooking:

—Never leave a grill unattended.

—Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

—Keep children and pets away from the grill.

—Keep long sleeves or clothing away from the grill.

—Never add charcoal lighter fluid or any other flammable liquid to the fire after a charcoal grill is lit.

—After cooking, allow the grill to cool completely before storing. Keep in mind that this can take up to an hour and once completely out the coals should be discarded in a metal container.

More information on grilling safety can be found at www.usfa.fema.gov or by calling 360-596-3929.

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Edward L. Robinett