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NEWS | March 31, 2021

Spring cleaning and grilling safety: deterrence from fire

By Joint Base San Antonio fire prevention offices Joint Base San Antonio fire prevention offices

After a long winter, the desire to open up the screen doors and windows is a welcomed invitation. As the dust and accumulation of items have built up inside and outside the home, so has the chances for a fire. Decreasing your family’s risk is a responsibility that must be taken seriously.

Spring cleaning safety

Following these safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA, will decrease the chances of such a fire tragedy:

FACT: Dryers and washing machines were involved in one out of every 22 home fires, with dryers accounting for 92 percent of the fires.

What to do: Clean the lint filter with each load of laundry and remove all lint from around surrounding your dryer clear of flammable items like clothing and cleaning supplies. Every six months, clean the dryer exhaust vent tube.

FACT: Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a reported house fire in half.

What to do: Make sure you test your smoke alarms once a month and change the battery once a year. Installed a smoke detector in every bedroom, hallway and level of your home. It’s recommended to change batteries twice a year.

FACT: Most home cooking fires involve the stovetop.

What to do: Keep flammable items away from the stove, never leave cooking unattended.

FACT: Nine-volt batteries can start fires. Batteries stored in drawers surrounded by metal objects – such as paper clips, coins or other batteries – and flammable items increase fire chances.

What to do: Keep batteries in original packaging until ready to use them. Battery posts that come into contact with metal can make enough heat to start a battery fire. Store batteries standing up.

FACT: Extension cord fires outnumbered fires with permanent power cords by two to one.

What to do: Make sure your electrical cords are not running across doorways or under carpets. Extension cords are meant for temporary use only. Have a qualified electrician add more outlets if needed.

Grilling is as American as hot dogs, baseball and apple pie. With warmer temperatures, the thought of “firing up the old grill” comes into mind. Before engaging in this pastime with family and friends, take a few moments to ensure your grill is safe to operate.

The following safety tips are from NFPA:

  • Propane and charcoal barbecue grills should only be used outdoors.
  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches at least 20-50 feet.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.
  • Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.

Grilling safety

  • There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as fuel.
  • If using starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
  • Keep charcoal fluid out of reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
  • When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing of them in a metal container.

For propane grills, check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there are is no flames, turn off both the gas tank and the grill.

If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department. If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.

If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least 5 minutes before re-lighting it.

For more information about spring cleaning or grilling safety, visit the National Fire Prevention Association website at http://www.nfpa.org/education or contact the Joint Base San Antonio fire prevention offices. Call JBSA-Fort Sam Houston at 210-221-2727, JBSA-Lackland at 210-671-2921 or JBSA-Randolph at 210-652-6915.