Officials give safety tips for outdoor cooking

COVINGTON — Summertime usually means more outdoor cooking, and with that comes increased danger of injury and property loss due to fire, warn firefighters in Rockdale and Newton counties.

“Newton County has had many incidents over the past years from improper outdoor cooking, inappropriate use of a gas grill, failure to maintain the grill and improper disposal of hot coals,” said NCFS Fire Safety Educator Lt. Cydnie Taylor-Ridling. “Some of these incidents have resulted in death from carbon monoxide poisoning, woodland fires, burn injuries and property losses.”

Rockdale County Fire and Rescue’s Fire Safety Educator Sharon Webb said RCFR has seen numerous instances of improper disposal of charcoal which has resulted in fires.

“Sometimes people put containers with hot coals on a porch and wind up with the porch igniting,” she said.

Also, she said she would caution citizens to always wear tight-fitting clothing when grilling to reduce the danger of clothing catching fire and to be vigilant about the safety of children and pets who might wander too close to the grill.

The fire safety educators offered several tips that can help avoid destructive fire and burns that can turn summertime fun into tragedy.

“Following these safety tips can keep grilling this summer safe and pleasurable for all,” Taylor-Ridling said.

Top Grill Safety Tips

• Grills should only be used outdoors and at least 10 feet away from a house or any building.

• Do not use the grill in a garage, breezeway, carport, porch or under a surface that can catch fire.

• The grill should be placed well away from deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

• Keep children and pets away from the grill area by declaring a 3-foot “kid free” safety zone around the grill.

• Grills should be kept clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grill itself and in the trays below the grill.

• Never leave a grill unattended.

• Keep lighted cigarettes, matches or open flames away from the grill.

For charcoal grills:

• If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the lit fire.

• Never burn charcoal inside of homes, vehicles, tents or campers. Charcoal should never be used indoors, even if ventilation is provided.

• When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

• Since charcoal produces CO fumes until the charcoal is completely extinguished, do not store the grill indoors with freshly used coals.

• Store charcoal fluid out of reach of children and way from heat sources.

For gas grills:

• Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes and leaks.

• If you detect a leak, immediately turn off the gas and don’t attempt to light the grill until the leak is fixed.

• Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when operating a gas grill.

• Never start a fire with gasoline or other flammable products.