Backyard Grilling Risks and Home Insurance Concerns

Summer is here, and cooking outside with friends and family is one of our favorite summertime traditions.  When our minds are busy making plans to enjoy a backyard cookout, many of us tend to disregard the potential hazards associated with backyard grilling.  

Unfortunately, backyard grilling risks are numerous and can happen without forewarning.  So, to prevent a disaster, make sure you follow all recommended safety measures before firing up your grill.

How To Prevent Backyard Grilling Risks

Backyard GrillingDid you know that more than 5,700 BBQ grill fires occur every year?  Most of the fires are caused by malfunctioning gas grills, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.  More than 57% of the grill fires occur during May, June, July, and August. The damages from these fires average about $37 million, 100 injuries, and 10 fatalities.

It’s also interesting to note that 32% of grill fires happen on patios, screened porches, or courtyards.  Another 24% of the fires start on exterior balconies or porches.  Also, an average of 8,500 burns resulting from grill fires are treated in ERs every year.

With these risks of outdoor cooking in mind, it’s easy to see that the following preventative measures are essential to protect your home and family during summertime cookouts.

Safety Tips to Reduce Backyard Grilling Risks

Propane grills are convenient and easier to clean, but they don’t always work properly.  In fact, malfunctioning propane grills are responsible for 70% of all house fires, according to the New York Propane Gas Association.  

These tips will keep your propane BBQ grill from creating a disaster:

  • Use a leak detection solution to check for leaks.  If you detect a leak, do not light the grill until it is repaired.
  • Keep flammable materials away from the grill (including cigarettes and lighters).
  • Clean the grill after each use with a wire brush or scraper to remove built-up food that can catch fire.
  • The bottom of the grill should not be covered with foil, as it will restrict airflow.
  • When lighting the grill, keep the lid open until you’re sure the grill is properly lit.
  • Store propane cylinders in an upright position outdoors.
  • Do not use the grill indoors or in any other unventilated space to prevent the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Check for blockages, cracks, or holes.
  • Regularly clean the tubes that extend from the burner to the control valves underneath the grill.
  • Keep the grill covered after it cools completely to protect it from damage.

It’s not just propane grills that are dangerous.  Charcoal grills can pose similar risks.  Here are a few ways you can control the risks of cooking with charcoal.

Safety Tips for Grilling with Charcoal

Would you believe that a charcoal grill can reach temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees? High temperatures like this can easily cause fires or severe burns. But, there are some things you can do to reduce backyard grilling risks.  

Using charcoal grills safely can be achieved by following these safety tips recommended by the safety director at Underwriter Laboratories:

  • Never use kerosene or gasoline to light the charcoal briquettes.  
  • Do not pour any type of lighter fluid on hot charcoal.
  • Always keep a BC-type fire extinguisher nearby while using the grill.  
  • Place the grill at least 10 feet away from your home.
  • Never use the grill indoors, in a carport, garage, under a covered porch, in a breezeway, or under tree branches.  
  • Don’t move the grill while it is lit.  
  • Have a spray bottle of water handy to control flare-ups.
  • Use water to make sure the coals are completely cooled.

With any kind of BBQ grill, you should keep children and pets away from it at all times.  To prevent burns, it’s a good idea to wear a heavy apron and oven mitts.  To further protect yourself, use long-handled utensils when grilling.

What Should You Do in Case of a BBQ Grill Accident?

If someone suffers a minor burn, run cool water over it but don’t cover the injury with butter, salve, or bandages.  The victim of severe burns should be taken to an emergency room or urgent care facility as soon as possible.

The grill could cause a fire on or near your property that is impossible to extinguish. If this occurs, call 911 immediately.  Even a small fire can spread quickly, so it’s best to take preventative action rather than wait until the fire gets out of control.

After the smoke clears, you may find that your property has suffered some damage.  Depending on the extent of the damage, you may need to contact your homeowner’s insurance agency.

Does My Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Backyard Grilling Damage?

Property damage caused by a grill fire is a covered peril under standard homeowner’s insurance plans.  Examples of financial coverage under these policies include:

  • Your policy covers fire damage to the house itself.
  • Damage to your lawn furniture, etc is also covered.
  • Damages to insured structures on your property such as sheds or gazebos are covered.
  • The liability portion of your policy covers injuries to family or guests.

The risks of outdoor cooking can be significant and are worth taking the extra safety precautions listed above.  

At Sandifer Insurance Agency, we want you to have an enjoyable but safe summer.  So, in addition to offering these grilling tips, we want to make sure our clients have adequate homeowners insurance.   Please contact us today so we can assess your insurance needs and coverage options.  


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