Tenants will flock to their grills on backyard patios everywhere this Labor Day Weekend, marking the start of the end-of-year holiday season when feasts get prepared on open flames. For the next four months, through Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, savory aromas wafting from kitchens and patios will tantalize the senses and put appetites in overdrive.
While for the option to permit outdoor grilling is a desirable amenity, landlords assume a potentially stiff liability when backyard chefs attempt to conquer slabs of meat and piles of vegetables by gas or charcoal cooking. Gas grills are high risk and were to blame for an annual average of 7,200 home fires in 2007-2011, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Charcoal or other solid-fueled grills were involved in a much lower annual average of 1,400 home fires during the same time period. About 30 percent were started on an exterior balcony or open porch.
Carelessness on behalf of tenants could cost a landlord thousands of dollars in damages. But a little education as we approach one of America’s favorite holidays could help minimize the risk.
1. Grills should be inspected and cleaned before use.
Whether it’s a new grill or the first firing up of the grilling season, encourage tenants to inspect their grills prior to use to ensure they are working properly. Check connections on gas grills to ensure they are tight and not leaking. During the inspection, check grates and drip pans. If there are remnant contents, be sure to clean them out to decrease potential fire hazards.
2. Grilling should be done within a safe distance from the home.
Remind tenants to move the grill at least 10 feet away from the home when cooking. Dripping grease can create bursts of flames that could catch exterior walls on fire if the grill is too close.
3. Keep a fire extinguisher near grilling areas.
A great way to show your appreciation for your tenants and ensure safe grilling is to provide a fire extinguisher. Or, encourage tenants to have one near the grill in case flames get out of control. If a fire extinguisher is not available, tenants should at least have a bucket of water or sand nearby.
4. Designate safe distances from grills.
A safety zone of at least three feet should be maintained around the grill so that kids, pets and adults don’t get splattered by hot grease or doused by fire. Suggest that at least a three-foot radius around the grill be clearly designated so everybody knows the safe boundary.
5. Use proper tools and protection when grilling.
Using the right tools and wearing flame-resistant gloves or clothing will help your tenants protect themselves while grilling. Long-handled tongs and flame-resistant protective gloves should be worn by the chef.
6. Encourage use of approved ignition fluids.
Lighting charcoals or other solid-igniter materials using gasoline is dangerous. Tenants should use only approved ignition fluids if they are not cooking with gas.
7. Allow ashes and briquettes to cool before disposal.
Charcoal ashes and briquettes may still be hot enough to start a fire and should be disposed of properly. Dispose of ashes in metal container after they have cooled for at least 48 hours.
Properly educating your tenants about how to grill safely on Labor Day or any other time of the year will help ensure everyone’s safety and protect your very valuable asset. Bon appetit!