By Justin Creech, Belvoir EagleMarch 14, 2013
Fort Belvoir residents need to remember general grilling safety practices while using their gas or charcoal powered grills this spring and summer.
Never use a grill indoors whether it's a home, tent or vehicle, because the toxic gas produced by charcoal or gas grilling is extremely dangerous and can kill without warning.
Also, never allow children to use the grill. Create a safety zone of at least three feet around the grill and place the grill a safe distance from play areas.
"Place the grill at least 10 feet from combustible materials such as siding, decks and tree branches," said John Weaver, Fort Belvoir Fire and Emergency Services fire marshal. "Do not wear loose clothing while cooking."
Specific tips for gas grills include checking the tubes that lead into the burner for any blockage from insects or other debris. Be sure to check grill hoses and fittings for cracking, brittleness, holes, scratches, or leaks. Replace as necessary. Move gas hoses as far away as possible from hot surfaces and dripping hot grease. Install a heat shield if necessary.
"If you smell gas when you reconnect the grill to the gas container, check for leaks following the manufacturer's instructions," said Weaver. "If you detect or suspect a leak, immediately turn off the gas and don't attempt to light the grill until the leak has been fixed."
In many cases, a light soap and water solution applied to the fittings and hoses can detect gas leaks by the appearance of bubbles from the escaping gas, according to Weaver.
Weaver also said residents should not try to repair anything on the gas tank or grill themselves.
"Do not attempt to repair the tank valve or appliance yourself," said Weaver. "See a gas dealer or qualified appliance repair person to do the repair."
For charcoal grills, residents need to make sure charcoal has been completely extinguished before disposing of the ashes and storing the grill because ashes may reignite 48 to 72 hours after use.
If residents use a fluid to start the charcoal grill, Weaver said use only starter fluid intended for this purpose. It is extremely dangerous to use any other combustible liquid to start the coals, according to Weaver.
"Never apply charcoal lighter fluid after the charcoal has been lit," said Weaver. "Also, store the starter fluid away from heat sources and out of reach from children."
One of the most important things people should remember is to never use a grill indoors, Weaver said.
"Charcoal produces carbon monoxide when it burns," said Weaver. "Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can accumulate to toxic levels in closed environments."