Regular safety checks help reduce grill fire risks

Kingsford Public Safety officers quickly extinguished a fire in a gas grill over the weekend.

According to the report, flames were coming from a valve on the propane tank. The grill was near the garage of a residence.

After putting the fire out with a dry chemical extinguisher, officers determined that a hose connection had been leaking. It needed to be tightened. They repaired the hose, tested it, and were on their way.

Not all such incidents are resolved so easily.

Liquid petroleum (LP) gas or propane, used in gas grills, is highly flammable. Each year, people are injured as a result of gas grill fires and explosions.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), many of these fires and explosions occur when people first use a grill that has been left idle for a period of time, or just after refilling and reattaching the gas container.

The National Fire Protection Agency recommends checking the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year.

Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles.

If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas 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 you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.

Further, to reduce the risk of fire or explosion, the CPSC recommends the following routine safety checks:

– 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 and brittleness. 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.

– Check for gas leaks, following the manufacturer’s instructions, if you smell gas or when you reconnect the grill to the LP gas container. If you detect a leak, immediately turn off the gas and don’t attempt to light the grill until the leak is fixed.

– Keep lighted cigarettes, matches, or open flames away from a leaking grill.

– Never use a grill indoors. Use the grill at least 10 feet away from your house or any building. Do not use the grill in a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or under a surface that can catch fire.

– Do not attempt to repair the tank valve or the appliance yourself. See an LP gas dealer or a qualified appliance repair person.

– Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions that accompany the grill.

Consumers should use caution when storing LP gas containers. Always keep containers upright. Never store a spare gas container under or near the grill or indoors. Never store or use flammable liquids, like gasoline, near the grill.

To avoid accidents while transporting LP gas containers, 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, which may open the relief valve and allow gas to escape.

Grills manufactured after October 1, 1995, are required to have three additional safety features to eliminate leak hazards: a device to limit the flow of gas in the event of hose rupture; a mechanism to shut-off the grill; and a feature to prevent the flow of gas if the connection between the tank and the grill is not leak proof. Consumers should consider purchasing grills that have these safety features, according to the CPSC.