For many of us, Fourth of July celebrations start with a barbecue grill. Many are powered by a propane gas tank and require special care in handling. Propane is an invisible, but highly flammable gas which can trigger an explosion if it leaks and comes into contact with fire.
When grills are not properly used or maintained or are left unattended, accidents can occur. There are several safety concerns associated with grills, including propane leaks, cooking burns and fires. In the last year, there have also been a few product recalls involving grills.
Propane Gas Leaks and Explosions
Protect your propane gas tank from leaks. Take care when transporting it to your refilling station. Place it in a secure box and return it immediately home after filling it. Have it inspected annually by a qualified professional.
Store the propane gas tank outside your home. Also keep it away from your garage or any deck attached to your home. These areas may seem safe to use because they are not living areas, but according to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than half of all residential grilling fires in the U.S. begin on porches, terraces, exterior balconies and similar areas.
Grilling Burns and Structure Fires
When grilling, the safest solution is to stay outside your home or apartment building, as far away as you can.
This protects your home as well as your guests and young children who are too often victims of grilling burns. According to the National Fire Protection Association, children under age 5 accounted for about one quarter of all thermal burn injuries in 2007. Many of these burns occur when children are curious and touch or bump up against the grill.
If you live in an apartment building or multi-unit dwelling, you may also want to check with your property manager and city and town offices for additional information. Massachusetts state law does permit use of propane grills on first floor porches only, but some cities have gone a step further. For instance, the city of Boston does not permit either propane or charcoal grills above ground floor porches. Grilling on rooftops is not permitted either.
Before heading out to the grill, review the manufacturer’s instructions first. If you no longer have the instructions, check if they are available on the manufacturer’s website.
Use long-handled grilling tools and avoid wearing loose clothing. Work neat and remove grease and fat build-up from the grills.
Finally and most important, never leave the grill unattended. If you need to step away for a minute, finish up your cooking and turn the grill off.
Check the Consumer Product Safety Commission and your manufacturer’s website to see if there have been any recalls involving your grill. When a grill is recalled, you may be asked to return it to the manufacturer or retailer for a refund or be given instructions to replace a part.
In April 2012, more than 87,000 gas grills sold in the U.S. were recalled by One World Technologies, and another 1,400 in Canada. The company offered consumers a replacement regulator after receiving 569 reports its grills were leaking propane gas. The defective grills were sold at Home Depot stores nationwide and Directory Tools Factory Outlet stores from March 2011 through February 2012.
No injuries were reported at the time of the recall.
Another recall came in November 2012, when 37,000 Master Forge Gas Grills sold at Lowe’s Stores were recalled due to fire and burn hazards. In that case, consumers were asked to contact the manufacturer, Guangdong Vanward Electric Co., Ltd., of China, for revised instructions and a warning label that showed how to properly install the hose and regulator.
At the time of the recall, the manufacturer reported two reports of hoses melting and rupturing, but no injuries. The defective product was sold at Lowe’s stores nationwide from November 2011 through May 2012.
Over 7 million candles have been recalled due to concerns that the cup holding the candles could melt or catch fire.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has stated that the defective products, tea light type candles, were sold under the brand names Chesapeake Bay Candle and Modern Light.
The affected candles were sold in Massachusetts and nationwide at retailers such as Home Goods, Target, and Wegmans between July 2009 and February 2011.
The clear plastic cup holding the candles is at risk for melting or igniting during use. There has been one consumer report of the candle’s plastic cup melting during use.
The arctic air of January has hit Massachusetts and families around the state are working to stay warm, safe and avoid injury. It’s essential this time of year to be informed and make plans for your home heating system, water pipes and going outdoors. The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck offer these tips:
Oil Heat Systems
- If you heat your home with oil, have a qualified oil heat service technician inspect and clean your system annually to remove soot build-up and ensure safe operation.
- Avoid replacing or repairing parts of your furnace or oil heating tank yourself. This could cause personal injury and damage your home. Contact a professional.
- Ask your oil company about Automatic Delivery to avoid disrupting your heating service. The company will use a computerized system that signal when tank volumes are low.
- One in every seven space heater fires in the past five years has resulted in a death, according to the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal’s office. If you use a space heater, be safe. Keep the space heater three feet from any person, pet or flammable material.
- Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off if you are going to sleep.
- Clean ashes from your wood-burning stove in between use to avoid clogging the vents. Avoid injury by disposing ashes in a metal container away from your home.
- Keep three feet away from wood-burning stoves to avoid burn injuries.
- Only burn wood in your wood-burning stove. Never burn household garbage, cardboard, plastics, foam or other materials.
Protecting Your Water Pipes
- To keep pipes from freezing, wrap them in insulation, such as newspapers with plastic to keep out the moisture.
- Allow a small amount of warm water to trickle from a faucet near pipes you are concerned will burst. This allows the water to keep moving so it cannot freeze.
- Learn how to shut off your water valve if it bursts.
- Purchase a freeze alarm for your pipes. These can be purchased online for less than $100.
Keeping Safe Outdoors in the Cold
- Minimize time outdoors, especially for the elderly and young children.
- Dress in layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing rather than a single-layer of thick clothing. Cover all areas with mittens, hats and scarves. Try to wear water repellent fabrics.
- Hypothermia only occurs in extreme cases, but watch out for signs of shivering, memory loss, disorientation and exhaustion. If these symptoms are present or the person’s body temperature drops below 95 degrees, seek immediate medical attention.
- Also watch out for frostbite. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a pale appearance in the fingers, toes, the tip of the nose and other areas. Seek medical attention immediately for these symptoms.
Click for more safety tips on other home heating devices from the Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck.