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Labor Day weekend grilling safety tips

When it comes to grilling, the first step is making sure your grill is in a safe area. It should be outside on a flat surface away from homes and deck railings.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — About 10,600 home fires are started by grills each year, on average. That’s according to the National Fire Protection Association. Statistics also show about 19,700 patients went to the emergency room per year because of injuries involving grills, including 9,500 thermal burns.  

Before you decide to grill over the Labor Day holiday weekend, you might want to consider making safety a top priority. When it comes to grilling, the first step is making sure your grill is in a safe area. It should be outside on a flat surface away from homes and deck railings.

"You want to make sure the clothing you’re wearing doesn't have big or long sleeves,” said Dee Shelton, Greensboro Fire Department's Fire & Life Safety Educator. “You don’t want the wind to catch your clothes and blow it into the flames. You want to wear a little bit more tight-fitting clothes, just to make sure that you're staying safe and keeping the clothes away from the flames.”

The next step is firing up the grill. But, before you turn on the grill, you should open the lid. After that, you can safely turn on the propane tank, turn on the knobs of the grill burner, and push the ignition button.

If the grill doesn't ignite, fire officials say, you should let the gas dissipate for at least 5 minutes before trying to ignite the grill again. Once you're done with the grill, turn the gas tank off to keep excess gas from leaking out. Then, turn off the grill burners.

Fire officials say you should never leave a lit grill unattended. You should also keep children and pets away from the grill for safety reasons. Before grilling, you might want to consider also being prepared for the unexpected.

"A fire extinguisher nearby is a great idea," Shelton said. “You want to make sure that it is a small fire. We teach in our classes that if it is a much bigger fire or about the size of a waste can, it's probably going to be a little bit more than what the fire extinguisher can handle. There's always the option to just step away and dial 911.”

For more grilling safety tips, visit the National Fire Protection Association website.