Tips to Keep You Grilling (and out of the ER)
The smell of charcoal is in the air.
Visions of sizzling steaks, smoking kabobs and good, old fashioned hotdogs are already making High Country mouths water, all in anticipation of the Fourth of July weekend.
For firefighters, however, the Fourth is just another day on the job, one with more burns and 911 calls than hamburgers to the men and women with hoses.
After all, they're on the job 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.
"We want you to have a good holiday ... we'd much rather people be out having fun with the family instead of sitting in an ER," Boone fire prevention specialist Matthew Crawford said.
When it comes to grills, he's seen some spectacular and easy to avoid missteps.
"As long as people operate grills correctly and are not doing something stupid, people won't get burned," he said.
Some things seem obvious.
Don't, for example, grill inside a house.
"I've seen it ... just not good common sense," he said.
Other safety measures, mandatory and otherwise, are less well known. Code, for example, prohibits using a grill within 10 feet of a commercial residential structure, and there are always violators.
Select a responsible griller.
"Kids get burned on grills," he said, meaning a responsible adult should man the tongs at all times. "We've had fires that have started mainly where ashes have not been disposed of properly."
To summarize, when grilling, there are a few precautions everyone should take.
1. Always use propane and charcoal barbecue grills OUTDOORS.
2. Place the grill away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
3. Keep children and pets out of the grilling station.
4. Keep grills clean by removing grease and fat buildup. Be sure to check the trays below the grill.
5. Never leave a grill unattended.
6. For charcoal grills, if you use a starter fluid, only use charcoal starter fluid. Never add flammable liquids to the fire.
7. Keep charcoal starter fluid away from children and pets.
8. If you use an electric charcoal starter, use an extension cord for outdoor use.
9. When you are finished grilling, always let coals completely cool before disposal in a metal container.
Crawford and the rest of Boone Fire Department hope these tips keep you at the grill and away from the ER. In the words of Watauga Democrat sports editor Steve Behr, be sure to bring the ketchup.