June 25, 2020

Handling backyard fire responsibly

Sizzling burgers on a grill. Handle backyard fire responsibly.

The summer season offers plenty of opportunities to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. Many of us make it a regular habit to host backyard gatherings with friends, neighbors and loved ones. Before you fire up the grill or light your patio torches, keep in mind some basic safety practices to help you handle backyard fire responsibly.

Backyard grilling, firepits, candles and torches all have one thing in common: fire. As cozy, relaxing, beautiful, and enchanting as fire can be, uncontrolled flames can cause serious injury and property damage.

Watch that grill

Nothing’s better than grilling out on the deck or patio in the summer. However, grill fires are more common than you think, and the month of July in particular sees the highest number of grill fires in America. Most of these fires are caused by malfunctioning gas grills. Keep your grill in tip-top shape and maintain a watchful eye to protect yourself and loved ones from burns and prevent fire damage.

Here are some grill-safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association:

  • Keep your grill clean. Removing grease or fat build-up from both the grill and the trays below the grill is very important. One out of every five grill fires happens in uncleaned grills.
  • Leave plenty of space between your grill and your home (at least 10 feet). Other fire hazards include being too close to deck railings, placing the grill under eaves or being situated too close to low-hanging tree branches.
  • Always open your grill lid before lighting it.
  • Children and pets should be kept a minimum of three feet away from the grilling area.
  • Never walk away from a lit grill.

If a grill fire happens, your homeowner insurance policy will most likely cover any property damage or potential injury expenses for a guest. These are standard coverages. But you should definitely check your policy or ask your agent, to be sure. The Insurance Information Institute provides some good advice on what your insurance policy may cover, as well as tips for safe-grill maintenance and what to do in an emergency.

Be careful with firepits, candles and torches

Be careful with your firepit this summer. You probably have one in your backyard already and enjoy relaxing by the fire with friends. Watch for flying embers and keep dried brush away from the firepit area. Do not wear flammable or loose-fitting clothing when tending a bonfire. Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the fire, and keep a fire extinguisher, garden hose or bucket of water nearby for emergencies. Be sure to douse your fire or any remaining embers with water when you are done enjoying it.

Are you using citronella candles to keep mosquitos at bay? Remember that these, like any candles, can cause burns and fires. And please be careful with those decorative candles or fancy torches you have placed romantically around your wooden deck. Never leave them unattended. The ambience is beautiful but remember to keep any and all flames away from anyone and anything that can burn. Have a safe and happy summer by handling backyard fire responsibly.

by Kris A. Mainellis and Jack Mainellis