WARNING: Don’t let outdoor grilling lead to a tragic fire

Summertime presents the return of several seasonal fire hazards, with activities shifting outdoors. Among the most common involve outdoor cooking grills.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, over half (57%) of grill fires annually occur in the four months of May, June, July and August. Most fires involve propane gas-type grills, including leaks or breaks of gas containers or pipes.

However, many grill fires also result from spark, ember or flame. Grill mishaps can result in both significant property damage and severe burn injuries that last a lifetime.

Never use indoors

Ted Pisciotta, assistant fire chief for fire prevention in Shelton, encourages everyone to consider the following fire safety practices:

— Locate grills and any propane tanks/cylinders a safe distance from buildings, wooden decks and other combustibles. Never use a grill indoors or in an enclosed area. Never store propane indoors.

— Keep the grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills, burners, and in collection trays below the grill.

— Inspect and clean of venturi tubes and burner (check owner’s manual) of gas grills where spiders and small insects may make nests or spider webs. This could lead to a fire.

Check hose connections

— Check propane gas hose connections. Be sure all are tight from the propane cylinder, regulator, and where the hose connects to the burners. Tighten if loose.

— Carefully check gas hoses and connections for leaks by applying a soap-water solution to the hose and connections. Once the propane cylinder is opened, any leak will produce bubbles around the area of the escaping gas.

If there are no bubbles, your grill is safe to use. If there are bubbles, turn off the tank and check connections, then have your grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak doesn’t stop, call the fire department immediately.

— Always open the lid of the grill when lighting.

— As you are cooking and smell gas, turn off the gas tank and burners. If the leak stops immediately, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the smell continues, move away from the grill and call the fire department immediately. Do not move the grill.

Keep children and pets away

— Keep children and pets away from the grill area. Also, keep charcoal fluid, matches and lighters of the reach of children.

— For charcoal grills, use only charcoal starter fluids designed for grills and do not add fluid after coals have been lit.

— Never leave any lit grill unattended.

— When finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

For additional information on fire safety, visit the Shelton Fire Prevention Bureau web site at cityofshelton.org under Public Safety.