Grill smart: Watch what you heat

Posted June 27, 2011, at 10 a.m.

EPSOM, N.H. —  New Englanders love barbequing, especially during summer holidays, and the Fourth of July is right around the corner. Portable fire pits, patio heaters, and gas grills make outdoor living spaces comfortable places to gather — if they are used properly.

The Propane Gas Association of New England (PGANE) reminds everyone, even the most seasoned outdoor cooks, to beef up on safety before firing up the grill.

“With simple appliance updates and proper maintenance, people can get a head start on ensuring safe, enjoyable time with family and friends outdoors,” says Joe Rose, president of PGANE.

To reduce any risk of an unwanted fire or burns from propane, consumers should routinely follow some key tips for the safe operation and maintenance of their grills:

Ventilation

  1. Always keep the lid open when lighting your grill. Don’t close it until you are sure the grill is lit.
  2. Keep the grill in a well-ventilated area, at least 10 feet away from the house — and at least 3 feet away from trees and shrubs.
  3. Never use a grill indoors or in any unventilated space. This is both a fire and carbon monoxide poisoning hazard.
  4. Never cover the bottom of the grill with foil — it can restrict air circulation.
  5. Always use and store propane cylinders outdoors in an upright position.
  6. After filling or exchanging a cylinder, take it home immediately. While transporting the cylinder, keep your vehicle ventilated and the valve closed or capped. Do not leave the cylinder in your vehicle.
  7. Never use, store or transport propane cylinders near high temperatures.

Firing Up The Grill Safely

  1. Never use matches or lighters to check for leaks. Never use starter fluid with propane grills.
  2. Before connecting the cylinder to your grill for the first time, use a leak detection solution (a 50/50 mixture of water and liquid soap) to check connections for leaks. Keep all flammable materials away from the grill. If you detect a leak, immediately turn off gas and do not attempt to light the grill again until the leak is fixed.
  3. Before lighting your propane grill for the first time in the spring, check the cooking grid and warming rack to be sure both are in their proper place. Clean the grid, the interior of the grill, and the burner (according to the manufacturer’s instructions) with a wire brush or scraper to remove any built-up food.
  4. If the grill does not ignite within 10 seconds, turn off the gas, keep the lid open and wait 5 minutes before trying again. If the igniter fails to light the grill after two or three tries, turn off the gas and replace the igniter according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. Do not smoke while handling a propane cylinder.
  6. When refilling the cylinder, always have the supplier check for dents, damage, rust, and leaks.
  7. Regularly check the tubes that lead into the burner for blockage from insects or food grease.
  8. Use a pipe cleaner or wire to clear blockage, pushing it through to the main part of the burner.

General Safety Tips

Always follow grill manufacturer’s instructions and keep written materials on hand.

  1. Designate the grilling area a “No Play Zone,” keeping kids and pets away from the equipment.
  2. Always have one person in charge of the fire at all times. Never leave a hot grill unattended.
  3. When your grill is not in use, cover the disconnected hose-end fittings with plastic bags or protective caps to keep them clean.
  4. Never attempt to repair the tank valve or the appliance yourself. See a propane gas dealer or a qualified appliance repair person. Be sure to locate your model number and the manufacturer’s consumer inquiry phone number and write them on the front page of your manual.
  5. If you smell gas and you are able to, safely turn off the cylinder vale, turning it to the right (clockwise). Immediately leave the area and call 911 or your local fire department. Before you use the grill again, have a qualified service technician inspect your cylinder.

Propane is a safe, clean, versatile and highly efficient fuel that can be used for other outdoor products to help extend the summer season. Propane is not only the barbecuing fuel of choice, it is also environmentally friendly. The Environmental Protection Agency recognizes propane as a clean-burning gas that releases 105 times less carbon monoxide than charcoal.

In recent years, propane has become more than just an energy source for outdoor grills. Did you know that it is also the fuel of choice for other consumer friendly products such as pool and patio heaters and mosquito magnets?

For more information on the value and safe uses of propane, visit www.pgane.org and www.usepropane.com.

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