The smell of hotdogs and burgers wafting from a neighbor’s backyard is the earliest sign of spring. But, the amber landscapes, crunchy leaves, cool breeze, and the onset of the festive season – fall brings several small and big joys with it including the smell of grilled good wafting from the kitchen.
But unfortunately, it also invites the fire season. For example, last fall, massive wildfires engulfed California – turning millennium-vegetations and thousands of wild lives into ashes.
The American kitchen has always been the hub of the home. But, over the past decades, homeowners have increasingly looked for ways to expand that circle into their yards and garden through outdoor kitchens.
But as we dust off the grills and gather around the fire pits, let’s not forget to go over the safety tips and carefully inspect the equipment.
After all, grills cause 3,600 fires every year in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Administration.
So, in this month’s edition, we have brought you tips for protecting your kitchen during the fire season.
Without further ado, let’s look at them!
Take Care Of Little Things
Fire mishaps are never intentional. But sometimes, even the slightest error from our side could cause irreparable damage (hint: Californian wildfire). So, make sure to take care of the little things.
For starters, always keep the flammable items away from the heat sources. For example, butter, oils, and shortenings can effortlessly catch fire – they have a very low smoke point. Likewise, items like Marsala or sherry too can explode if kept near the stove. So, even if it sounds like too much work, always make a point to store these in a cabinet away from the heat sources.
Second, never spray flammable materials in the oven. I know it’s convenient to spray the pan or cooking sheet with spray oil when it’s sitting on the oven rack, but it’s very risky. Oils just need a little heat to cause big explosions.
And always make a point to never operate your fire pit, grill, and chiminea in high winds. Goes without saying – high winds dramatically amplify the risks of flames spreading to nearby structures, including your house.
Clean-Up To Avoid Flare-Ups
Just like the cooking appliances inside your home, your grill also needs frequent TLC to perform at its peak. This doesn’t just yield tastier and healthier food but also quite significantly diminishes the chances of dangerous grease fires and flare-ups.
There are five main areas you should look after:
Cooking grates for Kitchen
After every use, remove the cooking grates and scrape off the food particles using a BBQ brush. For occasional deep cleaning, scrub with dish soap and water.
Always pull out the grease tray and scrape off food chunks and grease after every use. Next, wash them with dish soap and water to keep them sparkling clean.
Your briquette trays will always be on the receiving end of lots of burnt sauces and grease dripping. Remove the residue with the help of a scraper and clean the debris from the briquette using a wire brush.
Burners are often overlooked when cleaning but can cost one dearly. For instance, burners that aren’t used often can get blocked by spiders who love the smell of gas and making webs. And clogged burners pose several risks, as you already know. To clean them, use a wire brush.
Scrape down your burner box’s interior at least once every season to remove the carbon buildup. Then, vacuum or scoop out the debris, reinstall all components, and enjoy a cleaner and safer grilling experience!
Install Fire Safety Equipment in Kitchen
Consider installing fire safety equipment like smoke alarms and fire prevention sprinklers. These may seem like an unnecessary investment for an outdoor kitchen. Still, every year, smoke alarms save thousands of lives by detecting the fires early.
However, just installing any run-of-the-mill at any convenient point won’t do. There are specific rules you need to abide by;
It should be kept away from sources of the draft like windows
Its suppose to be kept 10 feet from kitchen appliances
It ought to be no more than 12 inches from the ceiling
Fire sprinklers are another worthy piece of equipment to install. Fire sprinklers react exclusively to heat, not smoke. And they will even work when you’re not home. You can hook up the fire sprinkler to your plumbing or have standalone plumbing. Fire sprinklers are the number one way to prevent outdoor kitchen fires.
Know Your Fire Suppressors
Little knowledge is dangerous – especially when it comes to fire. Different kinds of fires require different types of extinguishers. Otherwise, your efforts to put out the fire could backfire in unprecedented ways.
Carbon Dioxide: Carbon dioxide is used for some flammable liquids and energized equipment. But make sure you never use a carbon dioxide extinguisher for a trash or grease fire.
Dry Chemical: Dry chemical stops fire on electric appliances, flammable liquids, and solids. And just like carbon dioxide extinguishers, you should never use them in the event of a grease fire.
Wet Chemical: Primarily used in commercial kitchens, wet chemicals can effectively extinguish a grease fire.
Baking Soda Or Salt: If you don’t have wet chemicals handy in the event of a grease fire, don’t panic. First, put the lid on the pan or pot and turn off the grill or stove. The lack of oxygen should extinguish the fire if the lid is tight-fitting. If the fire isn’t put out yet, sprinkle salt or baking soda on the fire.
Make sure that you never use water to extinguish a grease fire. It won’t put out the fire but instead spread it throughout the kitchen.
Be Careful With The Gas Grill in the Kitchen
According to NFPA, five out of every six grill fires involve gas grills. Gas grills are way more convenient and easy to use. They need less refueling than charcoal grills. However, gas grills are also more susceptible to fire hazards.
Always make a point to check for gas leaks every time you reconnect and disconnect the regulator to your propane tank. And don’t forget to follow the safety measures listed below:
Don’t connect or disconnect a propane tank or move or alter gas fittings when the grill is hot or in operation.
Never use the propane tank if it has gouges, dents, bulges, rust, corrosion, or any other forms of external visual damage.
Clean and perform general maintenance of your gas grill at least twice a year.
Don’t forget to turn off the gas at the source before inspecting the grill.
When lighting the gas grill, make sure to keep the lid open to avoid a flash-off from gas buildup.
If the gas grill does not ignite on your first attempt, wait for 5 minutes for the gas to clear before you try again.
Be Careful With The Charcoal Grill in your Kitchen
When cooked on a charcoal grill, even a regular hamburger becomes a legendary family meal. This timeless way of cooking is fun, but do you know it also comes with unique fire risks of its own?
Never add lighter fluid or other easily flammable liquids to a charcoal grill that’s been lit. If you do so, it will result in flare-ups that can travel several feet – I’m not even exaggerating.
Also, only use the starter fluid that has been specially formulated for charcoal. And apply it to cold coals only – make sure you don’t add extra fluid once the grill is lit.
Store the extra charcoal in a secure place away from other possible fire hazards – ideally in an airtight metal container.
Empty the used ashes only after they have thoroughly cooled. Don’t ever dispose of them in the garbage can or leave them on the deck. You can use a metal receptacle for safe disposal.
Once you are done grilling, douse the coals or soak them in cold water before safely disposing of them.