Summer is here—the season of outdoor fun, lounging by the pool, backyard parties, and delicious barbecues under the sun (as much as social distancing protocols permit). However, the first step in your delicious BBQ ribs recipe isn’t firing up the grill: it’s making sure your grill is up for the task, and safe to start roasting.
Here are a few quick facts about BBQ fire and food safety:
- In Alberta, July is the peak month for grill fires.
- Cooking equipment is the number one ignition source in fire injuries.
- Improper use of BBQ grills can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, resulting in approximately 200 deaths each year.
- Over 4 million Canadians get food poisoning each year, which can happen when BBQ foods are not grilled property.
Safety Tips for BBQ Season
Whether you’re hosting BBQ season right in your backyard or up in RV country, having a good time starts with safety. The most important is keeping an eye on cooking hazards, like an open flame. The only things you should be roasting and grilling are delicious foods—not risk turning your property into ash. Keep in mind these safety tips to have a memorable BBQ season, and keep your home cozy and intact.
1. Choose the right grill and BBQ propane tank
There are two things that make a delightful backyard BBQ: a unique, flavourful recipe, and the right grill. Before you start grilling and roasting, though, make sure your cooking equipment is up for the job. The best grill and BBQ propane tank deliver reliable performance with built-in safety features that keep the open flame in check. Aside from cooking capacity and modes, make sure your grill has an excellent safety record.
2. Keep it outdoors
Grilling is an outdoor activity; large grills fueled by charcoal or propane are strictly for outdoor use. Don’t just start grilling outside the back door, you need to keep a safe distance from your home, including both attached and detached structures (such as the patio, shed, and garage).
Set up your grill at least 10 feet or more away from your house, and at least 3 feet away from patios, sheds, garages, and other outdoor structures. Avoid further fire hazards by grilling away from overhangs, decorations, and tree branches.
3. Follow manufacturer instructions
Don’t start grilling without reviewing the instruction manual. Even if you’ve had the grill for a while now, it helps to refresh your memory and make sure you’re grilling safely every time.
For best results and a safe BBQ session, make sure to operate your grill at food-safe temperatures, at the right flame level, and with enough propane. As well, set up your grill on a flat, stable surface to avoid tipping it over. You can use a splatter mat or grill pad to prevent permanent stains on flooring.
4. Check for propane tank leaks
A leaking or malfunctioning propane tank is a fire hazard. Before firing up your grill, check the propane tank to make sure it’s intact. This is especially important if you’re just starting up BBQ season after the long Alberta winter.
Telltale signs of leaks include smelling gas and difficulty lighting a flame. Not sure how to check for leaks? Try this hack: apply a solution of soap and water to the connections and hoses; if bubbles form, there is a leak. When this happens, don’t start the grill; instead, call the manufacturer for a repair.
5. Maintain your grill
Like any cooking equipment, grills need to be cleaned after use and regularly maintained. A well-maintained grill is the best way to avoid grease and fat build-up, which can cause uncontrolled, highly damaging grill fires.
As well, use your grill properly: never light it with the lid closed to avoid an explosive ignition caused by an abundance of gas in the grill box. Proper use and maintenance of your grill ensures your safety and its longevity.
6. Practice personal safety
It’s not true that rules ruin the fun. In fact, setting some ground rules helps ensure everyone has a good and safe time at your backyard BBQ. The fastest ways to shut down a party—and the rest of a fun summer—are injuries and fire damage.
For starters, make sure to keep kids away from the grill and open flame. Only adults who know how to grill should be doing the roasting and smoking. You can get creative by using fire-safe decorations and barriers to mark a boundary zone. These prevent accidents and burns.
Ready to start grilling? Make sure you’re properly dressed for the job: wear light cotton clothing, as it is less flammable than synthetic clothing fibres. As well, be mindful of loose and hanging clothing, such as sleeves and apron strings. Keep these away from the grill, open flames, and hot surfaces.
7. Keep a fire extinguisher on-hand
Even with the best fire safety measures, accidents can still happen. When they do, you want to be prepared to put out the fire quickly before it spreads and damages your home. Buy a fire extinguisher and learn how to use it in case of a grease fire. Never use water to put out a fire, since it will evaporate instantly and splash the burning grease out of the grill, causing the fire to ignite further.
8. Carry the right home insurance coverage
The best way you can protect your property and keep your loved ones safe is having the right home insurance coverage. Every day, you and your family already face any number of risks, even in the comfort of your home in Alberta. However, a backyard BBQ—and the risk of fire damage—significantly increases these risks.
Of course, home insurance doesn’t exempt you from practicing fire safety. Rather, it offers financial and liability protection in case of an accident during BBQ season. These include property damage and legal fees in a lawsuit alleging negligence, which a guest or neighbour can claim if they are injured during these gatherings.
Note that your home insurance coverage is always subject to policy terms, conditions, and deductibles, and is limited to the perils, exclusions, and limits indicated in the policy. Talk to your insurance broker to review your coverage. Keep the summer fun going with peace of mind from the right home insurance.
Coverage is subject to policy wording, terms, conditions and deductibles. Protection is limited to the perils, coverage, exclusions and limits shown on the policy.