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Every year, outdoor home grills cause approximately 8,000 house fires, resulting in $80 million worth of property damage. Just this past month, at least a half dozen house fires caused by grills have been reported by the national news. Now is the time to review your grill and grilling practices.

First, check to see if your grill been recalled: If the grill has been recalled, contact the manufacturer and stop using it until you get a repair or replacement.

Then, inspect the hoses on a gas grill for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing and that all connections are secure. Replace if necessary.

Check for propane gas leaks. Open the gas supply valve fully and apply a soapy solution with a brush or squirt bottle at the connection point. If bubbles appear, there is a leak. Try tightening the tank connection. If that does not stop the leak, close the gas valve and have the grill repaired by a qualified professional.

Regularly clean your grill, as described in the owner’s manual, and also clean the grease trap. This will reduce the risk of flare-ups and grease fires.

Use grills outside only in a well-ventilated area, away from vinyl siding on a house. Never use a grill indoors or in a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or under a surface that will burn. Gas and charcoal grills present a risk of fire and/or carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning that could result in injury or death. An estimated 3,800 gas or charcoal grill-related injuries were treated in hospital emergency departments in 2010. While almost all of the injuries were burns, a few of the charcoal grill injuries were related to carbon monoxide.

And never leave a grill unattended. If a flare-up occurs, adjust the controls on the gas grill or spread out the coals on a charcoal grill to lower the temperature. If a grease fire occurs, turn off the gas grill and use baking soda and/or a kitchen fire extinguisher to put out the fire.

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