Safety tips for grilling from the Great Falls Fire Marshal

Posted at 6:36 PM, May 24, 2024

GREAT FALLS — As Memorial Day approaches, many people are eager to bring out their grills and enjoy the warm weather with barbecues and gatherings.

However, Tim Harris, the Deputy Fire Marshal for Great Falls, has some crucial safety tips for the community to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday.

Essential Grilling Safety Tips:

1. Use Grills Outdoors Only: "Propane and charcoal barbecue grills should only be used outdoors," emphasized Tim Harris. This helps prevent fire hazards and carbon monoxide poisoning.
2. Keep Children and Pets Safe: Harris advises, "Keep children and pets at least three feet away from any grilling operations." This minimizes the risk of accidental burns or injuries.
3. Regular Grill Maintenance: "Keep your grill clean. Clean it at the beginning of summer and halfway through the summer. Make sure that all grease is kept free from the barbecue and surfaces," Harris suggested. Regular cleaning prevents grease fires and ensures your grill operates efficiently.
4. Propane Tank Safety: Refilling your own propane tanks can be hazardous. Don't try to refill your own propane tanks. Instead, trade them in for new ones. This reduces the risk of improper handling and potential explosions.
5. Safe Disposal of Charcoal: Harris advises careful disposal of used charcoal. "If you're using charcoal briquettes, make sure they cool completely and dispose of them in a metal container far away from combustible surfaces, buildings, and decks."
6. Checking for Leaks: Before using a new propane tank inspect the hose for leaks. "Take some soapy water, clean it off, and see if there's any leaks. If you have a newer grill, it's probably a non-issue, but if it's been a few years, it’s a good precaution."
7. Responding to Leaks: "If you smell any leaks or hear any hissing noises, immediately shut off your propane container, disconnect it from the barbecue, and get it away from any homes, structures, or anything that's combustible like decks," Harris warned.
8. Apartment Building Precautions: For those living in apartment buildings, Harris recommends checking with landlords and lease agreements regarding barbecue use. "If your facility is not equipped with fire sprinklers, ensure that you do not operate barbecues near any combustible surfaces or decks."

Remembering the True Meaning of Memorial Day: Finally, the most important step is to remember why this holiday exists in the first place. It's not for grilling, it's for memorial. So please have a very safe Memorial Day weekend.