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Play it safe at the grill

Memorial Day weekend kicked off the season of backyard barbecues.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, from 2004 to 2008, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 7,700 home fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues per year including an average of 3,200 structure fires and 4,500 outside fires. These 7,700 fires caused an annual average of 13 civilian deaths, 120 civilian injuries and $70 million in direct property damage.

Before you host your next barbecue, consider the following to ensure a fun and safe gathering:

    Before getting a propane cylinder filled, check for any damages to it;

Never transport or store propane cylinders in the trunk of your automobile;

Make sure the grill is at least 10 feet away from your house, garage or trees;

Store and use your grill on a large flat surface that cannot burn (i.e.- concrete or asphalt);

Establish a safety zone around the grill and instruct children to remain outside the zone;

Never leave the grill unattended;

Always shut off the propane fuel at the grill and at the bottle after you have finished barbecuing; and

Store your BBQ grill and propane cylinder outdoors.

In case of a barbecue fire:

    For propane grills, turn off the burners and, if you can safely reach the tank valve, shut it off. If the fire involves the tank, leave it alone, evacuate the area and call the fire department;

For charcoal grills, close the grill lid;

Disconnect the power to electric grills; and

Remember to never attempt to extinguish a grease fire with water. It will only cause the flames to flare up. Use an approved portable fire extinguisher.

Courtesy of Firemen's Association of the State of New York (FASNY).

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