Summer is here, which means it’s time to fire up the grill and relax with friends and family by the fire pit. While barbecues and bonfires are a big part of summer, it’s important to be cautious and well aware of the dangers that the use of propane and other flammable materials present.  Accidents can be avoided, in part, by taking the following precautions:

Grill Safety

According to The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), every year emergency rooms treat approximately 17,000 people who suffer from grill-related accidents.  The NFPA also reports that 10 deaths and 8,800 house fires are also caused by improper use of grills in the United States.  Charcoal and propane/gas are the two predominant types of grills in the U.S. and both pose their own safety risks.  When using a propane or natural gas grill, the most common threat is a gas leak that is allowed to ignite.  Before you even think about turning on your grill, check your tank, hoses and all connection points to be sure the hoses are in excellent condition and there is tight point of contact between the gas and the tank.  Signs of a leak include the smell of propane and the hissing noise of gas escaping.  If you encounter either of these problems, do not light your grill or any other flammable near the area until a professional checks it out.

If you are using a charcoal grill, always keep an eye on the flames as unintentional fires are the most common danger associated with this type of grill.  Once the coals are lit, never add additional lighter fluid or any flammable substance to the grill.  Charcoal briquettes are designed to ignite and retain heat, so using an accelerant is unnecessary.  When you are done grilling, be sure to let the briquettes burn out and cool before disposing.  Dumping hot coals into a plastic bag or trash barrel is dangerous and can potentially turn into a hazardous.

Regardless of your grill choice, always check the condition of the grill ahead of time, review the owner’s manual, clean the grill after each use, place the grill away from your house, and most important … always have a fire extinguisher handy in case of emergency.

Bonfire Safety

Bonfires are a great way to liven a summer party, but they can pose risks.  Two Minnesota teens recently learned this first-hand earlier this spring.  An 18-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy tried to add fuel to a bonfire they were having with friends when the gas can exploded.  Both teens ended up hospitalized with severe burns.  This is just one of the 6,000 cases per year where people end up in hospitals with fire-related injuries.  It’s important to understand the risks associated with lighting and maintaining a fire.  Never use accelerants on an open fire or even have them in the vicinity.  Gasoline, propane, kerosene, aerosols, alcohol, butane, etc., are common household flammable materials that need to be kept at a distance.  If there is alcohol consumption around the fire, make sure to have a designated sober participant who is tending the fire and keeping the others safe.  Finally, be sure to properly extinguish the fire – burning embers can travel through the air and catch fire to surrounding brush.  It is also important to have a fire extinguisher or water bucket nearby in case of emergency.  Pay attention when you are near a grill or bonfire and if you feel the situation is unsafe, take action.

Everyone loves sitting around the fire once the weather heats up.  By erring on the side of caution, you will help to ensure that your gathering is as safe as it is enjoyable.

SUGARMAN has a team of dedicated personal injury attorneys who represent those who have been injured or hurt. If you have been hurt and wish to speak to one of our attorneys regarding liability, please fill out a Contact Form, call us at (617) 542-1000 or e-mail