BBQ Safety & Consequences

By July 31, 2015 blog No Comments

July is the most dangerous month for outdoor grilling, followed by May, June and August.  Each year an average of 8,800 home fires are caused by grilling and close to half of all injuries involving grills are due to thermal burns.  The agents at CIG Shasta County Insurance Center want you to be safe when you grill, so we’ve offered some suggestions and give some startling examples of consequences in our latest blog.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, three out of five households own a gas grill.  Those gas grills cause a higher number of fires than charcoal grills.  But you charcoal grillers aren’t off the hook!  Particular dangers related to charcoal grills include the use of lighter fluid (don’t add it to hot coals), disposing of used coals and the use of proper protective equipment.  If you are like me, you use your gas grill year-round.  If you do, it’s important to periodically check for gas leaks and to properly store that spare propane tank.  The NFPA offers other tips at

I want to offer a couple of cautionary tales provided by NFPA.  The very simple act of using the BBQ to make dinner can turn to tragedy in an instant.

Heat from gas grill causes $4.5 million fire, Pennsylvania

A single-family house was heavily damaged when heat from a propane gas-fired grill ignited the wood siding.  The fire spread through a roof overhang into the attic and caused $4.5 million in damage before firefighters could control it.

The two-story, wood-frame house, which was 1500 square feet, had wood sidewalls and a wood-shake roof.  There were no sprinklers, but there were smoke alarms, which operated during the fire.

The barbeque grill was left close to an exterior wall.  To cook off the grease and food remaining on the grill, the residents left the propane gas burners on.  Heat from the grill ignited the wood siding and the fire spread to the second floor and attic.

The house, valued at $4 million, sustained $2 million in damage.  Its contents, valued at $6 million, sustained $2.5 million in damage.  One firefighter was injured.

Kenneth J. Tremblay, 2002, “Firewatch,” NFPA Journal, May/June 30.

Unattended grill ignites deck, Texas

Occupants of a single-family manufactured home left an operating propane gas grill unattended on a wooden porch.  Heat from the grill, which had been modified to burn charcoal briquettes, ignited the porch and the fire spread into the house, killing two children.

The one-story home was 1050 square feet.  Its exterior walls were covered with siding and the roof was asphalt shingles.  Smoke alarms had been installed, but they failed to operate.  There were no sprinklers.

An occupant of the home discovered the fire and called 911.  Responding firefighters were too late to save a 6-year old girl and a 4-year old boy, who died of smoke inhalation.  The two children were found in their bedroom.

Kenneth J. Tremblay, 2008, “Firewatch,” NFPA Journal, March/Aril, 24.

Despite these tragic stories, there are millions of Americans who BBQ every day during summer and many who do so year-round – safely.  The agents at the CIG Shasta County Insurance Center encourage you to get your grill warmed up, but keep your home and your family safe in the process!


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