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Top Grilling Safety Tips by Savvi

A grill is warm with a fire burning and a steak sizzling on the grates.

Summer is almost here, which means it’s time to get ready for burgers, hot dogs, and kebobs. While we love a good barbecue as much as the next insurance carrier, we also know the dangers that come from grilling. The National Fire Protection Association reports that approximately 9,600 home fires are caused by grills annually, and on average, more than 19,000 people end up in the emergency room each year with grill-related injuries.

That’s why we put together these safety tips you should read before you fire up your grill this season.

#1 – Place your grill in a safe location

A person wearing fire-resistant gloves adds sauce to chicken on a charcoal grill

When it comes to grilling, the easiest way to prevent a home fire is to always grill outside. Position the grill at least 10 feet away from a building or deck railings, and never put it under overhanging tree branches.

Also, keep the grill on a level, stable surface, and once you've started it, don't move it until it's fully cooled. That means it should stay put until the gas is off or the charcoal briquettes are completely extinguished.

#2 – Clean your grill at once every other month

A griller wipes down grates with a paper towel

Even before lighting your grill the first time this season, inspect it. Nests, rodent droppings, even spiderwebs can cause a fire (and add unwanted flavors to your food). Then give the grill a thorough cleaning, inside and out.

This includes cleaning all parts of the grill – the grates, heat deflectors, burners, cookbox, and cover. And don't forget the outside of the grill. If it's made with stainless steel, make it sparkle with the appropriate cleaner.

Every time you use the grill, clean off the grates while they’re still warm. If you use the grill at least once a week, give it a deep cleaning at least once every other month.

#3 – Check for gas leaks​

A homeowner checks the gas tank on a grill.

Using propane? Check the line for signs of cracks, punctures, and damage. Then spread a soapy water solution along the hose and turn on the gas. If bubbles form along the line or by the cylinder valve and outlet connection, there is a leak. The smell of gas near the grill and burners that won't light, also indicate a gas leak.

If you have a leak or even suspect one, turn off the valve on the tank, evacuate the area, and move at least 350 feet away. Do not use any electronics, including your cell phone, until you and your family are safe. Once you are a safe distance away, use the Savvi Key Fob’s SOS touch feature to alert authorities to your emergency.

#4 – Create a grill safety zone​

A warm grill with meat on the grates is safely placed with no items around it.

Create a perimeter of at least three feet around your hot grill. No children or pets should enter this area and keep it free of fire hazards, including oven mitts, loose clothing, and even apron strings. As a precaution, it's good to have an escape plan ready – just in case.

Learn additional fire safety tips in Smarter Home Fire Safety with Savvi.

#5 – Take extra care when lighting the grill​

Coals are starting to turn white as they lay aflame on a grill

Charcoal starter fluids should only be used to start charcoal grills and allow it to soak into the coals for a half an hour. Never add it to the coals once they have been lit. Also, if your coals are pre-treated, don't add fluid. Once the coals turn a grayish-white, you can start grilling.

When using a propane grill, don't automatically relight the burner if it goes out. Instead, turn off the gas and wait at least five minutes. This will allow the excess gas time to dissipate.

#6 – Know how to put out a grill fire

Smoke rises from a grill that still has steak on it.

Keep a fire extinguisher or a bucket of sand nearby to put out any grill fires. Baking soda can also be used on small grill flare ups. Never pour water on a grease fire as this will only make it worse. However, a garden hose can be used to douse burning embers if they spill from a charcoal grill.

If you're using a gas grill, then prevent the spread of a fire by turning off the tank, shutting the grill's hood, and waiting for the fire to die out.

Accidents do happen, and undetected fires can destroy a home in minutes. With Savvi, you can always know that your smoke detector and its batteries are charged and working by simply checking your app! With automatic notifications for low batteries and other features, you can rest assured knowing that you, your loved ones and your home are safe.

#7 – Grill safely

A griller uses tongs to flip food on a grill

That may sound easy enough, but it’s super important. Never leave your grill unattended.

If you use a grill brush to clean the grates before grilling, then you need to make certain that none of the wire bristles fall off the brush and get into your food. (This can send you to the emergency room.) We recommend using a bristle-free brush and scraper.

Also, watch out for the raw meat juices, even in marinades and sauces, which can spread diseases. Once your food is done, remove it from the grill with clean utensils and plates. Make sure your food is fully cooked by using a food thermometer to check that the meat has reached a safe cooking temperature. Check the CDC’s website for additional safe cooking tips.

#8 – Extinguish your grill correctly

A homeowner places the lid over a charcoal grill.

When using a charcoal grill, close the vents and lower the lid when finished to starve the fire of oxygen and allow the charcoal to go out naturally. Coals can be disposed of (in a metal container) after 48 hours.

Do not pour water onto hot coals. You may be burned by the hot steam, and the cold water can damage the grill. With a gas grill, make sure all burners are fully off, and close the valve on the propane tank or turn off the gas supply.

#9 – Store the grill safely​

A cover is tightly fitted over a grill to keep it safe from the elements

How you store your grill is as important as how you use it. For a gas grill, use a rip-proof, water- and UV-resistant cover, which will help prolong the life of the grill. Store it in a cool, dry place, and if it's outside, you can keep the propane tank connected as long as the grill doesn't receive direct sunlight. If your grill is headed indoors, disconnect the propane tank and leave it outside, out of direct sunlight.

#10 – Don't forget to check your grill for recalls

In between seasons, your grill may have been recalled. While homeowners insurance generally covers grill-related items – replacing decks and siding destroyed by fire or even an explosion – a faulty grill is the responsibility of the manufacturer. You must make sure to replace the parts and get the grill serviced to address a recall issue. No one wants to submit a claim for a home fire, and no one wants a friend or loved one hurt from a grill malfunction.

Savvi Insurance Group, Inc., based in Charlotte, North Carolina, is committed to helping families and individuals prevent losses, stay safe, and protect the people and things they love. We do that by providing our customers with our cutting-edge smart home security system along with a suite of services and benefits designed to proactively predict and prevent losses from happening in the first place.

We then back that up with comprehensive, modernized insurance protection and concierge-style claims handling, at prices that recognize and reward the benefits of a smarter, better protected home.

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