Welcome to "Insured and Secured" a new column where my goal is to provide useful insurance and safety related tips you can use and share with your friends and neighbors.  With the warm summer weather we've been enjoying and the 4th of July coming up many of us will be grilling up mouthwatering meals to enjoy outdoors.  By following a few simple tips, you can make sure you and your home are safe around the grill so you can enjoy your time with friends and family.

Each year fire departments are called to 7,900 fires started by grills, resulting in more than $80 million in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Agency. Additionally, 18,600 people go to the ER for grilling-related injuries and burns, some fatal. Some of the fires are caused by faulty grills but most are the result of unsafe grilling practices.

Gas grills account for 80 percent of grill fires; normally, a leak or break is the leading cause and can be easily prevented. Take these precautions: 

  • Be sure to position your grill at least 10 feet away from your house or any surrounding structures, as well as away from any nearby trees.
  • Regularly check the fuel line for gas leaks; if you find one turn off the gas right away and do not use the grill until the leak is fixed.
  • Never walk away from your grill when it's in use.
  • Do not overfill the propane tank.
  • Store propane tanks outdoors, in an upright position. Never store spare propane tanks near a grill.

Charcoal grills cause fewer fires, but they do present a serious hazard from carbon monoxide poisoning, which claims at least 20 lives each year. To be safe:

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  • Always use a charcoal grill outside, period.  
  • Use starter fluid sparingly, and never add it to an open flame. Don't use any other flammable liquid to start a charcoal grill.
  • Do not store the grill indoors immediately after it has been used. Even if the fire has been extinguished, the hot charcoal can continue to emit carbon monoxide.

In case of a fire...

  • For propane grills-turn off the burners. If you can safely reach the tank valve, shut it off.
  • For charcoal grills-close the grill lid.
  • If the fire involves the tank, leave it alone, evacuate the area and call the fire department.
  • Never attempt to extinguish a grease fire with water. It will only cause the flames to flare up. Use an approved portable fire extinguisher.
  • If there is any type of fire that either threatens your personal safety or endangers property, call 911.

Use these tips above to stay safe and keep your summer from going up in smoke!