According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), July is the peak month for grilling fires, followed by June, May and August. Annually, U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 10,200 home fires each year involving grills, hibachis, or barbecues.

With summer here, William Leverette of SERVPRO® of Thomas, Colquitt and Grady counties, a fire and water damage cleanup specialist in the Thomasville area, urges homeowners to check the readiness of their outdoor cooking equipment like grills and propane tanks to help ensure summer cooking fires don’t become house fires.

“The NFPA reports that seven out of every 10 adults in the U.S. has a grill or a smoker,” said Leverette.

That statistic really highlights the risk that homeowners face of experiencing a home fire caused by grilling and other open flame cooking. Its important to take some basic safety steps to help ensure you’ll spend your summer enjoying friends and family and not dealing with the aftermath of a grill-related house fire.

According to the NFPA, the top three causes of grilling fires are failure to clean the grill, leaks in gas hose lines or breaks in the grill body itself and proximity to flammable objects. Leverette says these risks are easily managed and offers the following tips from the NFPA to help Thomasville area residents prepare and use their outdoor grills:

General grill safety

1. Check your grill for cleanliness and damage. Remove grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill before the first use and after each subsequent use.

2. Position your grill well away from your home and deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging tree branches

3. Keep children and pets at a safe distance at least three feet from the grill

4. Never leave the grill unattended when in use and always grill outside.

Propane grills

1. Check for leaks in the gas tank hose before using your grill.

2. Open gas grill top before lighting the grill.

3. If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least five minutes before re-lighting it.

Charcoal grills

1. Use only charcoal starter fluid or opt for a charcoal chimney or electric starter.

2. Never add charcoal starter fluid, or any flammable fluid, to the fire.

3. Dispose of coals in a metal container after the coals have cooled completely.

“It doesn’t take long to prepare your grill for safe cooking, but it can take months to recover from a fire and the resulting flame, smoke and water damage,” said Leverette.

Invest a few minutes now to get your outdoor cooking equipment clean and ready to go and then spend your summer enjoying good times and great food, not dealing with the destruction and heartbreak of a house fire.

SERVPRO is an industry leader and provider of fire and water cleanup and restoration services. For more fire prevention and fire safety tips and information about fire and water damage restoration services, please visit www.servpro.com. For more information on SERVPRO of Thomas, Colquitt and Grady counties, contact Leverette at (229) 236-1902 or office@servpro9816.com.