This summer has been exceptionally hot and dry in the Nordics - forest fire indexes reaching historically high values. As a result, open fires in the forests have been forbidden and grilling sausages has not been possible even on specially provided campfire sites.
Many of us grill enthusiasts have then camped out to our own backyards for grilling. Here are a few useful safety tips to make your summer cookout at home or summer cottage secure.
1. Ensure that your grill is working properly
The first step is to check whether your grill is in working order. Pay special attention to the condition of gas grills. In order to test your grill for a gas leak, mix equal parts water and dish soap, use it to cover all connections and tubes and turn on the gas. Large soap bubbles are a sign of holes in the tubing or weak connections. If you detect any problems, call a specialist who knows how to repair your grill. Using a faulty grill may endanger your health and life as well as those of your friends and family.
Before using a new grill, make sure to read the user manual and the safety requirements. Another way to ensure that your grill is safe to use is to clean it regularly. Otherwise the surface of the grill becomes greasy and flammable.
2. Find a safe place for grilling
It is very important to place the grill at a safe distance from your house, garage and balcony, flammable materials, forests and dry vegetation. A safe distance is considered to be at least five metres in the case of grills that use open flames and two metres in the case of charcoal grills. Forests are at high risk of fire this summer. This means additional restrictions on forest activities. It is worth remembering that lighting fires and using grills is prohibited in forests and the countryside during dry periods even in places that are designed for this purpose.
Grilling indoors is strictly prohibited, no matter the size of your grill. In addition to being a fire hazard, grills emit a dangerous colourless and odourless gas called carbon monoxide, which can be lethal to both pets and humans in rooms with poor ventilation.
Once you have found a safe spot for your grill, make sure that your metal friend is level. An unsteady grill may easily fall over and is therefore a serious fire hazard.
3. Light your grill with proper fluids
Do not use flammable liquids such as petrol or acetone to light your grill, as these may cause an explosion and severe burns. Alcoholic drinks must also be kept away from flames. Only use approved lighter fluids to light your grill.
Pour the lighter fluid on the coals and wait for it to absorb. Then, light it carefully using long-reach matches. It is important to remember not to pour lighter liquid on a burning grill. Gas grills are becoming increasingly popular and if you have one of those, make sure it is open when you light it in order to avoid gas being trapped under the lid. If you keep the lid closed, the fire may explode into the lighter's face and cause burns.
4. Keep an eye on the grill
Fire must not be left unattended, because accidents do not leave you much time to react. Fire doubles in size and reach every minute. Therefore, it is very important to finish all preparations before lighting the fire so that you do not have to go inside even for a minute.
Grilling is often associated with outdoor holidays with friends and family. This means that you also need to keep an eye on your smallest family members when using your grill.
Make sure that children do not approach or play near the grill. Children should not be allowed to participate in the lighting of the grill or trusted to keep an eye on it even if parents are present. A grill can remain hot for a long time after use, so make sure that it has cooled down completely before you put it back in your shed or garage.
5. Keep safety equipment nearby
Safety starts with following the safety requirements. It is wise to keep a spray bottle filled with water at hand in order to control large flames.
A good grill master keeps a fire extinguisher at hand and knows how to use it, if needed. The grill master should not wear baggy clothing, loose jackets or other items of clothing that may easily catch fire. Use special grilling tools with long handles when grilling meat and fish.
In the event of an accident
You may think that you are able to put out a fire yourself, but unfortunately, this is one of the reasons why grilling accidents have serious consequences. If you forgot to use a fire extinguisher and the fire has already spread outside the grill, call to your local emergency number.
Source: Estonian Rescue Board