Avoid Grill Fires, Explosions and CO Poisoning
The summer is a season for outdoor food and fun around the barbecue.
Unfortunately, it's also the time for burn injuries and poisonings from
improper use of grills. As the barbecue season goes into full swing, the
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning of dangers related
to carbon monoxide poisoning and burns, as well as defective gas grills that
have been recalled by the manufacturers.
Charcoal Grill Safety Tips
Each year, charcoal grills are involved in about 20 deaths and more than 300
emergency room-treated injuries due to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
Burning charcoal produces CO, a colorless, odorless gas that can accumulate
to toxic levels in closed environments. To reduce your risk of CO poisonings,
follow CPSC's 3 safety tips:
1 - Never burn charcoal inside of homes, vehicles, tents, or campers.
Gas Grill Safety Tips
2 - Charcoal should never be used indoors, even with ventilation.
3 - Since charcoal produces CO until the charcoal is completely
extinguished, do not store the grill indoors with freshly used coals.
Liquid petroleum (LP) gas or propane, used in gas grills, is extremely
flammable and hazardous. Each year more than 500 fires occur when people use
gas grills. You're at greatest risk just after refilling and reattaching the
grill's gas container, or when you're using a grill that's been left idle for
a period of time.
To reduce the risks, follow these precautions suggested by CPSC:
- Check the tubes that lead into the burner for any blockage from insects,
spiders, or food grease. Use a pipe cleaner or wire to clear blockage and
push it through to the main part of the burner.
- Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks. Make sure
there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing.
- Move gas hoses as far away as possible from hot surfaces and dripping hot
grease. If you can't move the hoses, install a heat shield to protect them.
- Replace scratched or nicked connectors, which can eventually leak gas.
- If you detect a gas leak, immediately turn off the gas at the tank and
don't attempt to light the grill until the leak is fixed.
- Keep lighted cigarettes, matches, or open flames away from a leaking
- Never use a grill indoors. Use the grill at least 10 feet away from any
building. Do not use the grill in a garage, carport, porch, or under a
surface that can catch fire.
- When lighting the grill, keep the top open. If the grill does not light
in first several attempts, wait 5 minutes to allow gas to dissipate.
- Never attempt to repair the tank valve or the appliance yourself. See an
LP gas dealer or a qualified appliance repair person.
- Use caution when storing LP gas containers. Always keep containers
upright. Never store a spare gas container under or near the grill, or store
a full container indoors. Never store or use flammable liquids, like
gasoline, near the grill.
- To avoid incidents while transporting LP gas containers, consumers should
transport the container in a secure, upright position. Never keep a filled
container in a hot car or car trunk. Heat will cause the gas pressure to
increase, causing the relief valve to open and allowing gas to escape.
CPSC worked with grill manufacturers to develop a new voluntary standard to
prevent LP gas leaks. Grills meeting this standard will shut themselves off
if a gas leak occurs.
In November 1998, CPSC and Sunbeam Products Inc. recalled for repair about
80,000 Grillmaster gas grills with side burners. The side burner's propane
gas hose on these grills can twist up toward the aluminum casting of the
grill, causing overheating and melting of the hose. Gas leakage or a fire
could result from the hose damage. To get a free repair kit or for more
information, call Sunbeam toll-free at (888) 892-8150.
In May 1999, CPSC and Kmart announced a recall of about 40,000 Tru-Burn
Portable LP Gas Grills because their burner manifolds can separate during use
and ignite nearby combustibles. For more information, call Kmart toll-free at