Common sense a key ingredient for safe outdoor grilling

Tomorrow is shaping up to be sunny and warm - ideal conditions for an outdoor barbecue with friends and family.

An improperly handled grill, however, can cause fires and propane tanks can be explosive. Common sense is the key ingredient to prevent your holiday from becoming tragic and costly.

From 2003 to 2006, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 7,900 home fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues per year, including an average of 2,900 structure fires and 5,000 outside fires. These fires caused, on average, 10 deaths, 120 reported injuries and $80 million in direct property damage.

A standard Homeowners Insurance policy covers fire caused by a barbecuing accident. However, the cost, hassle and danger associated with a fire can be reduced or eliminated by following common-sense safety guidelines that can make an insurance claim unnecessary.

Backyard grillers with Homeowners Insurance can have peace of mind knowing that standard policies cover damage to homes, contents and structures on the insured property caused by fire.

For furniture and personal belongings, most insurance policies provide replacement cost coverage up to 70 percent of the amount of insurance on the structure of the home, subject to both a deductible and policy limitations for special items such as jewelry, furs or antiques.

Here are some helpful tips to help you safely enjoy your barbecue:

  • When ready to barbecue, wear a heavy apron and an oven mitt that fits high up over your forearm.
  • With gas grills, make sure the gas cylinder is always stored outside and away from your house. Make sure valves are off when you are not using them. Regularly check for leaks in the connections using a soap and water mix that will show bubbles where gas escapes.
  • Keep your barbecue grill on a level surface away from the house. Be sure to leave sufficient space between the grill and siding, eaves, garage, landscaping, and most of all, children.
  • For charcoal grills, only use starter fluids designed for those grills. Never use gasoline, and only use a limited amount of starter fluid. If the fire is too low, add dry kindling and more charcoal if necessary. Never add more liquid fuel. You could experience a flash fire.
  • Be sure to soak the coals with water before you put them in the trash.

For more information on grilling safety and Homeowners Insurance, contact NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942.


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