"Just taking a couple minutes for safety can make the difference
between a fun, safe time and a potentially deadly one," said State
Fire Marshal Dave Foreman. "As people begin making plans for summer
cookouts, camping trips and other activities, we want to remind
everyone of some common-sense steps they should take to prevent
unnecessary fire hazards."
According to the National Fire
Protection Association, gas-fueled and charcoal grills are involved
in nearly 1,000 residential structure and home outdoor fires each
year in the United States, many due to grills placed too close to
the house or other combustible materials. In 2002, grill-related
fires resulted in property loss of $30 million nationally.
Statistics from the Illinois State Fire Marshal's Office show that
nearly 170 grill-related fires were reported in 2006.
Most fire caused by grills could be prevented by following these
General outdoor grilling tips
Gas and charcoal
barbecue grills must be used outdoors only. If used indoors or
in any enclosed spaces, such as tents, they pose both a fire
hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to toxic gases such as
Determine a safe
location for the grill, well away from siding, deck railings and
out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
Place the grill a
safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic.
Keep children and
pets away from the grill area -- declare a 3-foot "kid-free
zone" around the grill.
grilling tools to enable the chef to keep a safe distance from
heat and flames.
grease or fat buildup in trays below grill so it cannot be
ignited by a hot grill.
Purchase the proper
starter fluid and store the can out of reach of children and
away from heat sources.
charcoal lighter fluid to coals, wait a minute before lighting
the coals. This allows the concentration of explosive vapors to
Never add charcoal
starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited,
and never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than
starter fluid to get the fire going.
Be careful not to
spill any fluid on your clothing or in the area surrounding the
Hot coals should
always be disposed of in designated containers. Plenty of water
should be poured on coals to completely extinguish the flames
and cool the coals.
Check the gas
cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each
year. A light soap-and-water solution applied to the hose will
quickly reveal escaping propane by releasing bubbles. If you
determine your grill has a gas leak, turn off the gas tank and
grill, and have the grill serviced by a professional. If the
leak doesn't stop after turning the gas and grill off, call the
If you smell gas
while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the
fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill
Use only equipment
bearing the mark of an independent testing laboratory. Follow
the manufacturer's instructions on how to set up the grill and
Always shut off the
valve to a fuel source when it is not in use.
Never start a gas
grill with the lid of the grill closed. The propone or natural
gas may accumulate inside, and when ignited, it could blow the
lid off, causing injury.
Never store propane
gas cylinders in buildings or garages. If you store a gas grill
inside during the winter, disconnect the cylinder and leave it
[to top of second column]
Camping fire and burn safety
Camping is also popular during
the summer months, and camping enthusiasts can prevent fire dangers
with the following safety tips:
Use a tent of
Use a flashlight or
battery-operated lantern inside the tent.
flame-producing appliances, such as lights, heaters and cooking
appliances, should never be used inside or close to a tent.
Pitch your tent at
least 15 feet upwind from grills and fire pits.
Maintain at least a
3-foot clear area, free of leaves, dry grass, pine needles and
such, around grills, fireplaces and tents.
Propane use for campers
Do a preseason
check of your propane camping appliances, such as campers,
stoves, heaters and lanterns, and check them periodically
throughout the season.
Use only approved
appliances from an approved testing laboratory, such as
Make sure your
camper is adequately ventilated.
propane cylinders indoors or in temperatures above 120 degrees.
trained personnel should handle modifications or alterations to
your propane system. Tampering with the system may cause a
potentially dangerous situation.
Never use an open
flame to test for propane leaks.
- Secure necessary permits to build a campfire.
- Use a designated fire pit if available.
- Have a supply of water or fire extinguisher readily
available before building your fire.
- Small children should never build a fire, even with adult
- Adults should always supervise children around fires.
- Never use a flammable liquid, especially gasoline, to start
a fire or on hot coals. Explosions can result.
- When near campfires and grills, wear snug-fitting, tightly
woven or short-sleeved garments.
- Never leave a fire unattended.
- Before you leave your campsite, make sure coals are
thoroughly extinguished before disposal.
- An extinguisher of some type, such as a shovel, bucket of
water or fire extinguisher, is an essential piece of equipment
for all campers.
For more fire safety information, call 217-785-1040 or visit
Office of the State Fire
Marshal news release received from the
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]