HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Firing up the grill is a Labor Day staple. If you're choosing to avoid restaurant crowds and grill out at home, there are a few safety warnings you should pay attention to.
Charcoal and gas grills can create a good Labor Day meal, but each year they can also lead to house fires resulting in an average of 10 fatalities, 140 injuries, 16,900 emergency room visits and $96,000,000 in property damage each year, according to State Farm Insurance.
The majority of grill fires are caused by grills malfunctioning, not cleaning properly, having the grill too close to something that could catch fire and leaving it unattended.
Gas grills are generally safe, but users should make sure to check for leaks or breaks in the line. For charcoal grills, lighter fluid is the only accelerant that should be used, never gasoline or other flammable liquids.
Horry County Fire Rescue Public Information Officer Mark Nugent says the statistics may sound scary, but knowing how to grill safely will decrease the numbers year after year.
"A lot of them probably some carelessness with people taking shortcuts when you finish grilling that grill is going to stay hot for a couple of hours, the gas grill charcoal anything make sure you don't put your cover right on, again I go back to keeping it away from the side of the house," Nugent said.
Every year millions of Americans safely enjoy outdoor barbeques but accidents do happen.
So whether you're using gas or charcoal to cookout, you need to make sure your barbecue doesn't get out of hand.
First, keep in mind your surroundings. Horry County Fire Rescue says keep the grill at least six to ten feet from your house.
Never use grills at apartments or in enclosed spaces like carports, tents and garages. Keep children, pets and play areas away from grills.
Make sure a garden hose is nearby to wet down anything that may be at risk for flames.Check your connections before you start to warm up your grill.
Lastly, keep and eye out on your barbecue at all times. Unattended cooking is the number one cause of house fires, and that includes grilling out.
Horry County Fire Rescue Public Information Officer Mark Nugent says if this isn't your first time grilling use common sense to prevent any tragedies. If you're grilling for the first time ever today, he has this to say.
"Always talk to the folks that sell it to you is the best advice I can give you, read the book, usually when you open up something the book is the first things that goes to the side, takes some time read over that book look at the safety feature of that particular item," Horry County Fire Rescue Public Information Officer Mark Nugent said.
If you're grilling out for Labor Day make sure you have a fire extinguisher nearby. If something happens, don't try to move the grill, get everyone away and call 9-1-1.
Nugent also suggested that you go by one of your local fire stations for advice.