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Using your barbecue safely

One of summer's great treats is the opportunity to take the indoors out to enjoy a grilled meal. However, sometimes we leave our safety sense inside. That's unfortunate, because we're dealing with the explosive potential of a few sticks of dynamite.

House fires related to charcoal grills usually stem from unattended cooking or combustibles (often exterior trim or wall coverings) too close to the heat. With gas, the problem's usually equipment failure or gas line breaks.

Vermont's fire code requires open or cooking fires to be constantly monitored by a competent person with ready access to a connected hose or a fire extinguisher. And non-electric grills must be more than ten feet away from any structure (other than a one- or two-family home). This means no grills on balconies or under overhangs!

Here are some other tips to help you avoid structure fires:

  • Store charcoal briquettes in a dry area. Damp charcoal can spontaneously heat.
  • Only use grills outdoors. Never use them inside for any purpose; carbon monoxide poisoning can result.
  • Allow charcoal to cool naturally away from structures and combustibles before safely disposing of it.
  • Store lighter fluid properly, away from living areas.
  • Store propane cylinders outside, 20 feet from building openings such as windows and doors.
  • Check hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing.
  • Never bring the propane tank into the house. Store grills with cylinders attached in a shaded, cool area out of direct sunlight.
  • Use only LP containers equipped with an overfill protection device.

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