VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
As weather begins to warm up, barbecue enthusiasts and grilling aficionados line their shelves with charcoal, lighter fluid and matches. This behavior is normal, but if a person is not careful it can be dangerous.
Most fires involving grills can be prevented by being proactive and using common sense.
Outdoor grilling is responsible for thousands of outdoor and structural fires in the US each year, according to the National Fire Prevention Association website.
A wise griller makes sure that any grilling unit is at least 15 feet away from any house or structure.
The foolish griller places his grill on the porch and watches his entire house go up in flames.
People should stay away from barbecuing under an overhang or patio cover. The NFPA reported that over half of the structural fires that occurred in 2005 were caused from people barbecuing in a covered area.
A wise griller sets a boundary around the grilling unit to keep kids and pets at a safe distance.
The foolish griller watches his dog tip over his flaming grill and run off with his steak.
GAS NO LAUGHING MATTER
Gas grills present a greater risk than charcoal due to their explosive nature.
A wise griller checks his gas grill for leaks. An easy way to do this is to apply soapy water to the hose of the grill and turn it on. If the bubbles are formed, immediately turn the grill off. If the leak continues after the unit has been shut off back away and call the fire department.
A foolish griller doesn't check and risks a major explosion.
A wise griller is careful not to store propane in a building.
The foolish griller blows up the brand new convertible that he purchased for his wife because he thought the garage was acceptable storage.
The NFPA advises all gas grillers to only use equipment that has been inspected and approved by an independent testing laboratory.
WHEN COAL IS YOUR GOAL
When using a charcoal grill to suffice outdoor culinary desires, one must be cautious of lighter fluid.
The wise griller stores his lighter fluid in a cool environment away from heat, and never applies it to hot or burning coals.
A foolish griller watches as the stream of fluid catches on fire and travels back up to the bottle, ending the his dreams of becoming a professional ambidextrous hitchhiker.
When dealing with coal, it is important to realize the fire may be out, but the danger still burns.
"From my experience in the fire department, I have seen a number of trash can and dumpster fires that have resulted from charcoal that was not completely out prior to disposal causing a fire to start in trash cans and dumpsters," said Mark Stortecky, a 30th Space Wing operational safety and health specialist.
It is important to note that the safety tips do not advocate a halt in outdoor grilling, but instead a grilling experience that involves common sense.
For more summer safety tips click here