By Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
With more Americans lighting up their grills than ever before, it’s important to remember the key to a successful cookout is safety. There are certain measures of precaution that must be taken in order to enjoy a hot summer night around the barbecue.
Accidents happen every year, leaving people severely injured and homes badly damaged because of a lack of attention to detail. Many safety measures must be taken into account before tossing that match into a pile of coals or pushing the ignition to ignite the fumes of propane.
When heating up, a grill will surpass temperatures of 450 degrees. It only takes a split second for something to ignite at those temperatures. With that in mind, grill masters must be aware of children and animals within the vicinity of the open flames.
“When planning the next barbecue, ensure the grill is at least 10 feet away from all structures,” said Rick Myers, 19th Airlift Wing ground safety manager. “You never want to barbecue in a garage or breezeways, overhangs, porches or low hanging trees, especially with the weather being dry the last few years. And also be mindful of any burn bans that are in place.”
Setting up a designated grilling area with a fire extinguisher nearby is also a quick tip for quelling small fires.
Another enemy of the grill master is carbon monoxide, or the “invisible killer”, because it is colorless, odorless and poisonous. According to the Unites States Fire Administration, carbon monoxide takes the lives of more than 150 people every year. All grills that use charcoal as a fuel source produce this toxic gas and could potentially be fatal if the grill is not located in a well-ventilated area.
After giving the grill sufficient time to cool down, the next step is scrubbing the grill racks and emptying the plate after every use. Doing this prevents the chances of starting a grease fire and ensures a safe grilling experience.
One of the most ignored and underused safety procedures is the disposal of coals.
“Little Rock AFB had one serious fire about two years ago that was a result of charcoal being poured into a plastic trash can,” said Myers. “To properly dispose of charcoal, you must let the coals cool down completely and place them in a metal container afterwards.”
For more information about safety, contact the base safety office at (501) 987-3599.