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Summer marks the start to barbecue and grilling season, which is not without the potential for accidents.
July is the peak month for grill fires with 17 percent, followed by May (14 percent), June (14 percent) and August (13 percent). Winter months, including December, January and February, account for three percent of the fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Vice President of Outreach and Advocacy Lorraine Carli.
If a fire started by a grill is reported to the fire department, it is included in the data. However, it may be out when the fire department arrives, Carli said in an email.
Seven out of every 10 adults in the United States have a grill or smoker, which increases the risk of potential accidents, according to NFPA.
From 2011 to 2015, fire departments went to an annual average of 9,600 home fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues, including 4,100 structure fires and 5,500 outside or unclassified fires, according to NFPA.
These 9,600 home fires caused annual averages of 10 civilian deaths, 160 reported civilian injuries and $133 million in direct property damage.
There was an average of 16,600 patients per year that went to emergency rooms because of injuries involving grills from 2012 to 2016. Nearly half, 49 percent, of the injuries were thermal burns, according to NFPA.
"A wide variety of situations cause grill-related injury. Injuries associated with lighting the grill typically involve the person doing the lighting. Lighter fluid was involved in some incidents with charcoal grills; others were burned with gas grill problems. These injuries were typically to adults," Carli said in an email to AccuWeather.
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Some burns occurred when someone, often a child, bumped into, touched or fell on the grill, grill part or hot coals. Children under five accounted for an average of 35 percent of the 4,500 non-fire thermal grill burns.
Five out of six grills involved in home fires were fueled by gas, while 14 percent used charcoal or other solid fuel, according to NFPA.
Gas grills were involved in an average of 7,900 home fires per year, including 3,300 structure fires and 4,700 outdoor fires annually. Leaks or breaks were primarily a problem with gas grills.
Charcoal or other solid-fueled grills were involved in 1,300 home fires per year, according to NFPA.
There are a variety of causes of grill fires.
"Some are 'normal' cooking fires caused by a failure to clean the grill, unattended cooking or something that could catch fire too close to or on the grill (or the grill is too close to something flammable). Because grills are usually portable, they may be placed too close to a building. Leaks can be an issue with gas grills," Carli said.
Prior to lighting up the grill, it is important to be familiar with grilling safety precautions. NFPA provides safety tips on their website to help prevent grilling fire accidents.
General grilling tips
Before you use your grill:
When the grill is on:
If a fire does break out and you cannot contain it in a safe way, contact your fire department immediately.
For more safety and preparedness tips, visit AccuWeather.com/Ready.
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