Grilling Fire Safety 2022

What would a “cooking with fire” website be without some grilling fire safety? Flame Gorilla wants your grilling and fireplace cooking to be a happy, fun time without injuries or damage to property. Fire is a dangerous thing! As wonderful and fascinating as it is, it can cause severe damage and injury. So while this site talks a lot about the fun side of using fire, everyone should always treat fire with respect and have a fire safety plan every single time you light any fire! These fire safety tips apply to any type of fire, whether charcoal on your barbecue or wood fire in your fire pit or fireplace.

Grilling Fire Safety Tips and Guidelines

  • Have a fire safety plan and have water and/or a fire extinguisher close by – Preventing problems with fire is always easier if you think ahead about what may happen and how best to deal with it. If you are caught without a plan you may get into trouble. Always have water and/or a fire extinguisher nearby when building any type of fire. If you or anything else catches on fire, douse it with water, snuff it out, extinguish it with a fire extinguisher or even get in the shower. The faster the fire is out, the less harm it can do.
  • Do not build fires on or near flammable materials – Another part of your fire safety plan should be where you decide to build your fire. Well-contained, dedicated fire areas (such as a clean, functional fireplace or outdoor fire pit) are best for building a fire. Do not build fires near flammable materials, such as on or next to a wood deck, under a closely overhanging tree or near other structures or materials that could get ignited by a flying hot ember.
  • Use mesh fire screens – Most fire pits come with a mesh, dome fire screen. Most fireplaces also have a screen that sits in front or slides across the front of the fireplace. These prevent embers from flying out of the fire and igniting nearby materials. This is particularly important if a fire is left unattended, even if just for a few minutes.
  • Do not leave a fire unattended – If you are there observing your fire, if an ember flies out and ignites something, or if a log rolls out of the fireplace, you can correct the situation quickly before any serious consequences. If you are in another room for an extended period, not paying attention, these seemingly small occurrences can have catastrophic results! So do not build a fire if you know your attention is going to be elsewhere or if you plan to leave the house anytime in the next several hours.
  • Do not build a fire in an enclosed space without proper ventilation – A fireplace is built specifically to house a fire and to direct the smoke and other fumes out the chimney and not into the room. However, a fire (even just a charcoal grill fire) gives off toxic fumes and carbon monoxide, which if not properly ventilated can be harmful or even lethal. Never build any type of fire, including a grill fire with charcoal, in an enclosed space without proper ventilation. This includes indoors, in a garage, or in a camping tent.
  • Have your fireplace cleaned regularly – Proper functioning of your fireplace requires that the flue is clean and clear so that smoke and other fumes go up the chimney and out. First of all, make sure your damper in your flue is open before starting a fire. Additionally, if your flue is not cleaned regularly, creosote can build up inside the chimney and eventually limit or block the flow of smoke up the chimney. If this happens, smoke backs up and will come into the room. It can also lead to a chimney fire. Avoid this problem by regularly having your chimney professionally cleaned (chimney sweeping) and repaired. Most people recommend having your chimney cleaned at least once a year. If you notice smoke coming into the room extinguish your fire safely and do not build another fire until you can have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional.
  • Keep children and pets away from fires – While animals usually have the natural instinct to steer clear of fires, young children may not have learned this lesson yet. Also, a cat or dog running wild through the house may accidentally get too close to the fire. Avoid this by keeping an eye on pets and children at all times, teaching your children fire safety and by using mesh fire screens to keep them away from the fire itself.
  • Be sure fires are properly extinguished before leaving them unattended – This goes along with the “never leave your fire unattended” rule above. When you are done with your fire or it is dying down, there still may be some fire or even just hot embers left. Be sure these are extinguished before you leave them alone. If you are outdoors with a campfire, douse the embers with water to make sure they are completely extinguished before leaving your campfire site.
  • Be aware of local laws regulating the building of outdoor fires – Laws vary in different parts of the country. For some, outdoor fires, whether in a fire pit, campfire pit or other outdoor fire, are allowed but in others they are not allowed without a permit or only in specific locations. This includes campfires in the wilderness when camping. If in doubt, check with your local fire department to find out where fires or grills can be used outdoors in your area. This includes building a fire or even using a grill in public parks, camp areas, and the beach. Even a private fire pit in your backyard may be illegal in some areas. So be safe and check the laws in your area before building any outdoor fire.

Happy grilling and be safe!

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