Outdoor Summer Fire Safety Tips

Family cooking on the grill

Summer is the time to break out the recipes for the grill and roast your gourmet marshmallows over the campfire. It’s a great time to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. Many of your gatherings will revolve around the grill and campfire. However, it is important to be aware of the hazards that come along with these pastimes.

Grilling Out

July is the peak month for grill fires. It is imperative to give attention to precautions you can take as you grill out this summer. As a general rule, always keep your grills away from your home, deck railings, branches or anything that could catch fire. Another important rule to observe is keeping a safe zone of at least 3 feet around your grill. This will help keep your children and pets away from your grill. It is also important to keep your grill clean. Scrape grease, fat and other leftover food off your grill before each cooking session. Additionally, clean your grill trays regularly. Before lighting your grill, make sure you have the grill lid open. While cooking, it is important that someone is designated to be the cook at all times as grills should never be left unattended.

When dealing with charcoal grills, there are a few key tips to keep in mind.

  • When using starter fluid, make sure that it is specifically charcoal fluid.

  • After your coals have heated, never add charcoal fluid or other flammable liquids to the fire.

  • Keep your charcoal fluid away from the heat source and out of reach of children.

  • If you are using an electric charcoal starter, use an extension cord for outdoor use.

  • When you are finished cooking, make sure your coals are cool. Then, throw them out in a metal container.

  • Always be careful with charcoal grills because they are known to easily cause fires.

Propane grills call for a couple different precautions.

  • Always check your gas tank hose before the first use of the year.

  • If you smell gas while cooking, quickly step away from the grill and call the fire department.

Charcoal and gas grills are very different when it comes to safety and uses. Even your new gas grill could be far different from your old gas grill. That is why it is important to read your manual. The manual will have fire safety practices specific to your grill and how to react in emergencies. And don’t worry if you have misplaced your manual; most manufacturers have their manuals online.

S’mores and Ghost Stories

Backyard campfires are also popular in the summertime. It is easy to get careless when you are roasting marshmallows, but use these tips to be intentional and safe. Here are a few tips when building and enjoying a campfire.

  • Only people who know how to properly light a fire should handle making the fire. It is important to properly start a fire rather than using flammable liquids that could cause the fire to get out of control.

  • It is never okay to use dangerous fuels such as gasoline on your campfire.

  • Always contain your fire in a pit or a ring.

  • After successfully lighting a campfire, you will still need to make sure your fire is a safe environment. Consider putting a bucket of water, shovel to scoop dirt or fire extinguisher nearby to have in case the fire get out of control.

  • Always keep your fire away from low bearing tree branches or other nearby flammable matter.

  • Pile your extra firewood away from the campfire so sparks can’t light firewood outside your pit.

  • Anything that can fly away easily should be set far from your fire. This includes napkins, paper plates and other similar products. Make sure these are all held down with a rock on your picnic table.

  • Stop feeding your fire far enough in advance that the coals have time to cool before you leave the campfire.

  • Once the top layer of ashes have had time to cool, spread the ashes around to expose the hot coals underneath to further cool your campfire.

  • Finally, poor water on your ashes to fully put out your campfire. Make sure that you pour water over the entire fire. Be careful once you have put out your campfire that all the ashes have cooled because a fire can easily be sparked if you have not properly and patiently put your campfire out.

  • As a general rule, it is recommended that you keep a close watch on your children and/or pet to make sure they are safe while enjoying the summer night.

  • And always have a person designated to watch the fire at all times. A fire should never be left unattended.

The key to enjoying the outdoors this summer is to really be intentional with the way you follow procedure with grills and campfires. While they can create many great memories and delicious dinners, they can also create disasters if you and your family are not careful.

Read more about summer safety tips.