Enjoy Grilling this Spring and Summer, but Stay Safe

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


hamburgers on the grill

Those with Alberta home insurance and virtually everyone else in Canada are looking forward to the warm days ahead this spring and summer. While residents like to spend their days off from work during the season in a variety of ways, one way is by kicking off the unofficial start to the summer by enjoying some barbecue chicken, hamburgers and hotdogs after firing up the grill.

But before taking the hibachi out of storage, Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association Canada encourages homeowners to exercise caution when they're cooking in the great outdoors.

"Outside" is the operative term when it comes to grilling. All too often, many people think it's fine to use their grill on their deck or porch. But these improper cooking locations can lead to Alberta home insurance claims, resulting from a surface catching fire.

HPBA Canada emphasizes the importance of only using grills outside and well away from standing structures, such as a trailer, tent, house, garage or any other enclosed area.

Ensure the grill is in the free and clear

Something else grillers will want to be certain of is that their cooking area is in a well-ventilated location. It's often not enough to be cooking outside. For example, if there are combustible surfaces nearby or if fire accelerants are within the vicinity of the grill - such as dry leaves or brush - the grill should be moved to an area that's more open. Wind-blown sparks that can jump out of the fire from the burning coals can create a fire if it catches on to something flammable.

An additional key component of safe grilling is wearing the proper attire. HPBA Canada notes that loose clothing or accessories should be avoided as apron strings and shirt tails can easily catch fire. Shirts and shorts don't necessarily have to be snug but at the very least appropriately fitted.

Have fire extinguishers handy

Occasionally, whether due to too much grease or lighter fluid, a significant flame may emanate from the grill. Cooks should be sure to have fire retardant resources at the ready, such as a fire extinguisher, baking soda, a bucket of sand or a garden hose. Using them may ruin the food, but this should be the least of a host's concern were there ever to be an uncontrollable fire.

Provided cooks are in an area that's several yards away from a standing structure and the area is properly ventilated, some may feel as though they're safe to walk away from the grill while the food is cooking. HPBA Canada advises against this, however, as a seemingly insignificant spark can create a fire. In short, always remain near to wear the grill is situated in the chance that there's an incident.

According to fire statistics from the Council of Canadian Fire Marshals and Fire Commissioners, cooking is far and away the leading cause of home fires and injuries in Alberta as well as in the country at large. For instance, in 2007, there were approximately 5310 fires within the province, leading to home insurance and economic losses north of $333 million.