BBQ Time: Propane Tank Safety Tips
Backyard barbecues are easily one of the most popular summertime activities. There’s nothing quite like spending an afternoon outside with your friends or family and enjoying a nice burger or hot dog right off the grill. Barbecues are so much fun that it’s easy to forget about the dangers involved.
Any type of cooking method that involves heat and an open flame is going to have its share of dangers and grilling is no exception. It’s estimated that an average of 8,900 home fires are caused by grills every year. In 2012 alone, 16,900 people were rushed to emergency rooms because of injuries that involved grills. While proper precautions need to be taken regardless if you’re working with a charcoal grill or a gas grill, you need to be particularly careful with propane-fueled grills since they are linked to a higher rate of fires and accidents than charcoal grills.
Given that propane is so flammable, it’s extremely important to make sure your tanks are properly stored and that the grills are properly maintained to prevent problems. Keep these propane tank safety tips in mind for a safe cookout this summer.
Storing and Transporting Propane Tanks
Propane tanks should always be stored outdoors, not in any enclosed space like a garage or a shed, since they can potentially explode. They also need to be stored upright and kept away from sources of heat, such as fire pit or stove. If you have a spare propane tank on hand, do not store it directly next to your grill. Heat can cause the cause pressure inside the tank to build up, making it more likely to catch on fire or explode.
When transporting a propane tank home after being filled, always keep the tank upright and secure it so that it won’t fall and roll around, which could cause it to get dented and damaged. If you need a way to get it to stay upright, use a piece of rope to tie it up, not a chain. The action of metal rubbing against metal can cause a spark and potentially cause an explosion. Also, be sure to transport your propane tanks in a well-ventilated part of the vehicle, not an enclosed trunk. If you must transport them inside the cabin of a car, keep your windows open.
Checking Tanks and Tubing
The longer you’ve been using a propane tank, the more important it is to regularly inspect them for signs of damage to make sure it’s still in good working order and safe to use. Test your gas tank hose for leaks by applying a mixture of soap and water to the hose, then turning on the gas. If bubbles start to form, that means you have a propane leak and you need to have the grill serviced before using it again. Don’t forget to inspect the gas lines on your grill for signs of damage like twists, pinched areas, melting, and clogs.
It’s extremely important to make sure your grill is kept away from anything that could easily catch on fire. Be sure it’s not too close to your house, garage, or any other structures on your property. If you have a wooden deck in your yard, be careful when placing grills on or around it; keep the grill away from the wood rail and put a fire-resistant grill mat underneath if it’s going on the deck. Although it’s generally best to avoid putting a grill on a balcony or open porch; 29% of house fires caused by grills were caused by grills in those locations.
Don’t forget to look overhead for any tree branches overhead that could potentially catch on fire if a fire gets out of hand. Also, make sure your grill is kept on a level surface so that it won’t tip over.
Clean Your Grill
Cleaning your grill before each use not only helps your food taste better, it helps keep you safe, too. About 20% of all grill fires are caused by a failure to clean the grill, which is actually more than the number of fires caused by gas leaks (which account for 11% of grill fires.) Cleaning your grill will help prevent flare-ups, but it’s still best to make sure you keep tools nearby to help extinguish a fire if it gets out of hand.
If you’re injured by a propane grill accident or explosion, consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to learn your options. If the accident was caused by a defective propane tank or grill, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer. Or if the injury was caused by another person’s negligence, they could be liable for your injuries.