As we approach the Fourth of July, many of us have grilling on our minds, and all the delights of summer BBQs. If you plan to grill, we hope you enjoy, but please remember to follow the rules of safety at all times.
This is the time to plan, because as we enjoy friends and family, July is the peak month for grill fires, the weeks when nearly 20 percent of all grill fires across the U.S. happen, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). August is another high risk month, accounting for 12 percent of grill fires.
Though these fires are devastating and life-changing events, they don’t always make the news. But according to the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal’s office, there were 474 fires involving grills, hibachis and barbecues between 2014 and 2018. Nineteen civilians were injured and seven firefighters were hurt in the wreckage. Property damage totaled $3.8 million in losses.
Across the 50 states, firefighters responded to 10,200 home fires involving grills, hibachis and barbecues each year from 2013 to 2017. Ten civilians were killed and 160 were injured. Property damage resulted in $123 million in losses.
Grilling Safety Tips
Compiled From the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal’s Office and Other Sources
Only use propane and charcoal grills outdoors.
Never leave your grill unattended.
Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
Grills should be set up at least 10 feet away from the house or deck railings.
Gas grills can be used on first-floor decks and patios, but they must be located on the ground level or have an outdoor stairway leading to the ground.
Grills should never be set up under a roof overhang or low-hanging tree branches.
Grills should not be used on fire escapes.
Take additional precautions around children. Keep matches and lighters out of their reach. Create a circle of safety, keeping children and pets at least three feet away (more space is better).
Do your grilling at least three feet away from tables and furniture. Fold grill covers and remove them from the cooking area.
Safe Handling of Propane Tanks
Never smoke while handling or cooking with a propane cylinder.
Keep propane tanks outdoors at all times, at least 10 feet distance from doors and other building openings. This includes windows and dryer vents.
Keep propane tanks at least 20 feet from air intake vents and ignition sources.
Propane cylinders should be stored outdoors in shady areas. Cylinders should not be used or kept in high temperatures.
Replace propane cylinders that are aging, rusting or showing other wear and tear.
As with other grills, only use charcoal grills outdoors.
When using charcoal grills, only use charcoal starter fluid. Never use gasoline or kerosene.
Never add lighter fluid to hot coals. This can cause a flash fire, causing serious skin burns.
Use charcoal grills in open outdoor decks and patios, just as you would gas grills. Be aware that charcoal briquettes emit carbon monoxide, a clear, odor-free gas which can accumulate in spaces and be deadly. Charcoal grills should never be placed in close quarters near an open window.
Allow the grill to cool. After 48 hours pass, you can safely dispose of coals.
If you cannot wait 48 hours, soak the coals in water, then place them in a metal container.
Review the product manual and instructions that come with your grill.
Start by opening your grill to see if there is any animal activity or unexpected conditions.
Next, check that your propane tank is safe for use. Dab soapy water on your propane tank and turn it on for a moment. If there is bubbling, you may have a potential leak. This should be done carefully. Before you try, watch a National Fire Protection Association video.
Check that connections are tight before you turn the gas on.
Clean the grease trap every time you grill.
Rooftop grilling is against the law in Massachusetts. When someone tries to grill on a rooftop, the damage can be deadly and exponential. Some may still remember the 2010 gas grill fire explosion that exploded and lit up the sky over Charlestown. Starting the fire was an illegal propane tank which exploded on a residential building’s rooftop. Soon after, three other illegal gas tanks burst nearby, igniting a 4-alarm blaze which move through several buildings.
Firefighters – 125 in all – battled the fire on a 100-degree Boston day. Nine firefighters and two civilians were treated for heat exhaustion injuries.
Maintain Safe Decks and Porches
Grill fires can happen when someone makes a mistake while cooking, when a child gets too close to the grill or if the grill has a product defect. Landlords may be held responsible in certain grill fires if they keep a defective grill or fail to meet building codes and illegally close off access ways. In Massachusetts, most residential properties are also required to have working smoke alarms on each floor of floor, including inside bedrooms and other areas. They must also have working carbon monoxide detectors.
You cannot always prevent negligence in these situations. But you may be able to minimize many injuries by providing yourself a little more room to work and taking it slow. Keep the grill area and walkways leading there open and clear. When you take grill covers off, set them in safe areas away from the grill. Finally, tell everyone in your home you are grilling and ask another adult to watch children.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck
Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston personal injury law firm with expertise in premises liability and product liability cases. With more than 100 years combined experience, our attorneys have been recognized as top-rated personal injury lawyers in Massachusetts. Through our Project KidSafe campaign, we also work to bring safety information to individuals and families to help them make safe choices.
If you have been seriously injured by the negligence of someone else, learn your legal rights for seeking compensation. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
Settlement was reached during trial in Middlesex Superior Court
Breakstone, White & Gluck successfully resolved a mild traumatic brain injury case for our client, who was injured when heavy snow collapsed from a commercial warehouse roof onto her vehicle. During the recent jury trial in Middlesex Superior Court, Attorney Ron Gluck presented testimony from multiple expert witnesses including a neurologist and a meteorologist, who testified in support of his client’s case.
Four days into the trial, the defendants made an offer that represented an 800% increase from the pre- trial offer and the case was settled at that time, just before it would have gone to the jury for deliberation. The settlement provides significant compensation for the injuries and damages that our client suffered.
Attorney Gluck presented evidence showing that the three defendants – the property owner, the property management company, and the company that leased the warehouse – took no action to remove snow from the warehouse roof and awning following 20 to 24 inches of snowfall. Defendants had a duty to provide a safe environment for those legally visiting the property, such as our client who was making a delivery to the loading dock at the time of her injury.
Trial and Litigation
Through extensive depositions taken during the litigation it was proven that the defendant corporations failed to establish policies for snow removal from the awning, which was located directly above the loading dock, and that none of the employees of the defendant corporations had any understanding of whose responsibility it was to remove snow from the roof. As a result, snow remained on the awning after a historic snow storm and fell onto the liftgate of plaintiff’s vehicle which slammed down onto her head, causing her injuries.
At trial, it was proven that our client was instructed to park her car directly below the awning in spite of the fact that the defendant was aware that snow had fallen from the awning onto the loading dock on prior occasions and that they knew it presented a danger to anyone standing under that awning.
The evidence presented at trial established that our client suffered a traumatic brain injury which caused multiple symptoms including memory loss, mood alteration, dizziness, headaches and involuntary movement of her limbs. She underwent a long regimen of medical treatment for her injuries.
At the beginning of the trial, the defendants denied that they were negligent and that their negligence caused our client’s injuries. But, as the trial proceeded and Attorney Gluck presented evidence, the defendants’ settlement offers grew each day until the case was settled on day four.
Breakstone, White & Gluck – Free Legal Consultation: 800-379-1244
Breakstone, White & Gluck is known for our exemplary trial experience. Not every case can be or should be settled out of court. When our attorneys go to trial, we do so with the respect of our colleagues and judges, bringing over 100 years combined experience before Massachusetts trial and appeals courts. We are known for our successful outcomes and for holding defendants, from individuals and insurance companies, to the MBTA and corporations, accountable for their negligence to our clients.
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, each of our partners has over 35 years of experience representing clients in serious personal injury claims in Massachusetts. Our attorneys have successfully presented our clients’ cases before the trial courts, the Appeals Court and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
If you have been injured, we can advise you on whether you may have the legal right to seek compensation. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
Breakstone, White & Gluck returned to the Dedham Bike Rodeo yesterday for the third year in a row. We were happy to donate 120 new bicycle helmets to the kids at the rodeo.
Photo: Attorneys Ronald E. Gluck and David W. White of Breakstone, White & Gluck with Dedham police officers, including Neil Cronin and Bob Nedder.
Photo: Attorney David W. White with 4-year-olds from the Courtyard Learning Center in Dedham.
The Dedham Bike Rodeo was one of the first events we participated in after starting our Project KidSafe campaign in 2013 and we always look forward to it. It is an annual event organized by the Dedham Police Department and Dedham Parks & Recreation Department. Local children are invited to ride around at the Endicott Estate, then offered a free lunch. The Dedham Police Department raffles off free bicycles to a few lucky children. For the finale, the Dedham Fire Department brings in the hose truck and lets the kids run under the water to cool down. That was much needed yesterday, with the temperature over 90 degrees!
Attorney David W. White fitted the children for new bicycle helmets and talked to them about the importance of always wearing one. A child who wears a helmet significantly reduces their chance of suffering a traumatic brain injury in a bicycle accident. In Massachusetts, wearing a bicycle helmet is also the law for children and teenagers 16 years old or younger.
David has fitted some of the Dedham kids two or three times now over the years and it was nice to see them back, willing to wait in line on such a hot day. A lot of helmets from years past were still being worn by other kids.
Breakstone, White & Gluck donated the helmets as part of our Project KidSafe campaign, which we launched in 2013. To date, we have donated over 5,000 helmets and expect to reach 8,000 by year’s end.
Our goal is to encourage children to wear bicycle helmets and ride their bikes safely. Even though it is widely known that bicycle helmets can protect cyclists, many children still do not wear them or use ones which do not fit properly or are in poor condition.
It is important for children to wear helmets which fit properly and meet safety standards. Children are especially vulnerable to bicycle-related injuries and deaths, accounting for half of all cyclists who are treated in emergency rooms each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some 26,000 children are treated for traumatic brain injuries related to bicycling accidents.
We also encourage parents to always wear their helmets too. When children see their parents consistently wearing helmets, the use of helmets by children increases dramatically.