Homeowners insurance blog

Be Sure to Grill Safely This Memorial Day

Memorial Day marks the official start of summer, and what better way to kick things off than with a backyard barbecue? Each year, Americans chow down at more than 3 million barbecues, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). That’s a whole lot of hot dogs, burgers, and ribs! Before you go looking up the recipe for Aunt Suzy’s famous double-chocolate cake to serve up for dessert, double check this list of important grill-safety information.

Five tips for firing up the grill

Marinating kabobs may be a crucial cooking concern for some barbecue aficionados, but grill safety is by far the most important priority. Follow these tips – recommended by the National Fire Protection Association – for a safe and enjoyable barbecue:

  • Prep and protect. Wear an apron, a heavy duty oven mitt that fits over your forearm, and gather any grilling gear (such as tongs and utensils) you may need before you start cooking. Have a bucket of water or a hose close by, too, just in case.
  • Use best practices. Place grills on a level surfaces and a safe distance from houses, garages, and anything flammable. Keep kids and pets away from the grill – set up a ‘no-play’ zone. Watch the grill at all times.
  • Handle charcoal grills with caution. Cooking on a charcoal grill presents several risks including carbon monoxide poisoning and overusing lighter fluid. Remember, you only need a small amount of lighter fluid. Avoid relighting hot charcoal with it, and never use gasoline.
  • Grill properly with propane. Leaking fuel lines are the leading cause of injury with gas grills. Check for leaks by putting a soap and water solution on the hose that attaches the propane tank to the grill; if bubbles appear that means there’s a leak. You should also turn off all the valves and the gas source (propane tank) after use.
  • Clean up with care.  After you’re done grilling, extinguish hot coals with water (when using charcoal grills) or turn off the propane tank completely (with gas grills). Remember, a grill will stay hot for a while after you’re done using it, so don’t touch or store it until it’s cool to the touch.  

Get to know your grill. Whether it’s gas, charcoal, or electric, all grills have specific usage and storage instructions that you should become familiar with to avoid accidents such as fires or explosions.

Sometimes the worst happens

Even if you take these and other precautions, accidents can happen when you’re barbecuing. Rest assured your homeowners insurance can help if the grilling gets out of hand.

See how each section of your policy helps protect you in the event of a blunder while you’re hosting a cookout:

  • Personal Liability Protection: Your pooch mistakes your neighbor’s toe for a hotdog. If he or she is fuming hotter than your new grill and wants to take you to court, this type of coverage can help with your legal defense and any award in the case, up to your coverage limit.
  • Medical Payments Coverage: If your neighbor doesn’t want to sue you (and Fido), MedPay can help with his or her medical costs incurred from the dog bite.
  • Dwelling Coverage: Your uncle thinks he’s a pit master while manning the grill and accidentally launches flames toward your house. If your house catches fire and needs repairs, dwelling coverage can assist.
  • Other Structures Coverage: If the flames also damage your fence or shed, you can call on this portion of your policy.
  • Personal Property Coverage: If the flames burn belongings in your home, this portion of your policy can address replacing them – again up to your coverage limits.
  • Loss of Use Coverage: If your home becomes uninhabitable because of the fire, loss of use coverage can help with hotel, restaurant and other living expenses while the house is repaired or replaced.