Whiteman 'grills up' for summer safety

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alexandra M. Boutte
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Outdoor dining is popular for many as warmer days approach. From fun-filled family picnics to romantic dinners for two, many fond memories can be rooted in afternoons and evenings around a picnic table or grill.

During the spring and summer months, Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen here are likely to enjoy cooking from a barbecue grill. To make outdoor dining memories enjoyable and not full of pain or trips to the emergency room, it is important to plan and use common sense before the first piece of charcoal is lit or the first hamburger hits the grill.

As Americans light their grills this season, it is important to remember that a fun barbecue is also a safe barbecue, according to Tim Robinson, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron fire prevention inspector.

"Airmen are the first line of defense for fire prevention," Mr. Robinson said. "Using common sense will prevent most fires. Neglect is the largest reason why and how fires happen. Anytime someone works with fire, there is a chance of getting burned."

Common sense and planning will help prevent injuries and help keep everyone safe, he said.

The following tips are courtesy of the 509th CES:
· Position the grill at least 15-20 feet away from siding, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
· Place the grill at least three feet from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic.
· Keep children and pets away from the grill area by declaring a 3-foot 'kid-free zone' around the grill.
· Put out several long-handled grilling tools to give the cook plenty of clearance from heat and flames when cooking.
· Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.
· Use the grill outdoors. If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces such as tents, grills will pose both a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to carbon monoxide.
· Purchase grill-appropriate starter fluid (read labels) and store out of reach of children and away from heat sources.
· Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited and never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going.
· Check the propane cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will reveal escaping propane quickly by releasing bubbles. If these two tests failed and there is no flame: turn off the propane tank and grill.
If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
· If a gas scent is detected while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.

Statistics released by the National Fire Protection Association indicate that gas and charcoal grills cause an average of 164,000 fires on home properties resulting in a combined property loss of more than $307 million dollars.

"Airman can do a lot to protect themselves, their family and their property from a fire related incident," Mr. Robinson said. "You are the key to your safety. A little time spent on simple common sense prevention will do a lot to make your house a safer place."

For more information about fire prevention and safety, contact the Whiteman Fire Department at (660) 687-6080. For emergencies, call 9-1-1.