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Practicing Barbecue Safety

Posted 6/17/2010   Updated 6/17/2010 Email story   Print story


by Peter Blackburn
66th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

6/17/2010 - HANSCOM AFB, Mass. -- Summer officially gets under way on June 21 and, as always, it brings barbecuing season with it. As cookouts heat up, the Hanscom Fire Department reminds the community to always use proper grilling etiquette and safety practices when cooking outdoors. The first step to having a successful cookout is to understand the safety tips and guidelines that go with it.

One of the most important elements in safe barbecuing is to take note of the grill's actual location. Outdoor cooking should take place a safe distance - the fire department recommends at least 10 feet - from any building structures or combustible material, such as trees or shrubs. Thirty-three percent of home grill fires start on an exterior balcony or unenclosed porch, according to stats provided by the fire department.

"The most common mistake made by grillers during the summer is the location of the barbecue. Most calls we get are people trying to cook under an overhang or in garages," said Hanscom Fire Prevention Assistant Chief Mark Webb. "It's not only about heat, but ventilation is important, as well"

When a grill is in use, it should be supervised closely and should never be left unattended. Also, it is important to keep grills clean, as fires can start due to grease build-up over time.

If an accident does occur, Mr. Webb advises that grillers be prepared.

"You should have a fire extinguisher nearby and make sure the area around the grill is sanitized and nothing is highly flammable," he said. "If there is an accident, get everyone out of the area and a safe distance away and then call the fire department."

According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments nationwide respond to an average of 7,900 home fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues each year, including 5,000 outside fires and 2,900 structure fires. June and July are the peak months for grill fires.

In the event of a fire or any other emergency, call 911. For more information about fire safety and prevention call (781) 377-9402.

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