Summer grilling safety tips Published June 6, 2014 By Tech. Sgt. Mark Wyatt 157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H. -- After a long cold winter of being indoors, many are going outdoors to enjoy traditional summer activities such as backyard cookouts and other warm weather activities. Among the most common and potentially dangerous activity this time of year is cooking on the grill. The Pease Fire Department encourages families to use proper grilling techniques and adhere to safety practices while cooking outdoors. Notably, grills should be kept a safe distance from homes, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. "Propane or charcoal grills must be used a minimum of 10 feet from a structure or combustible material," said Senior Master Sgt. William E. Hardekopf, 157th Civil Engineering Squadron Fire and Emergency Services chief. "Grills must be used outdoors only and never left unattended. Children and pets should also be kept a minimum of three feet away." In addition to keeping grills a safe distance from structures, Hardekopf urged personnel to not grill in an enclosed area for other reasons. "Grilling indoors or in an enclosed area can result in carbon monoxide being produced that can cause serious injury," he said. Hardekopf also cautioned when lighting a grill, be sure the grill lid is open beforehand to avoid combustion, and when lighting charcoal grills, use only charcoal starter fluid and never add charcoal fluid to an already lit flame. "It's important to have a hose or fire extinguisher nearby in the event of an emergency," Hardekopf said. He also reminds personnel that safely discarding hot coals is another important consideration. "It's critical to allow the coals to cool completely before disposing in a metal container," he said. "The coals could ignite and start a more serious fire." Another potential hazard is a leaking hose from the propane tank to the grill. Hardekopf suggests checking the gas tank hose frequently by applying a soap and water solution to the hose. "A propane leak from a hose will release bubbles," he said. "If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill and get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again." He went on to suggest that if you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Another safe practice is to keep matches and lighters away from children. "A good practice is to teach children to notify an adult immediately when they find matches or a lighter," Hardekopf said. Other grilling safety tips Hardekopf suggested are to not wearing loose clothing while cooking on the grill, keep your grill clean by removing grease buildup that may cause a fire and to never leave the grill unattended. In the event of a fire or any other emergency, the fire department urges personnel to call 911 right away. For more information about fire safety and prevention, contact the Fire Prevention Office at 603-430-2749.