Fire Department Public Education
The El Paso Fire Department would like to remind the citizens of El Paso to keep safe when outdoors this summer, especially when grilling. Fire in the grill, under hot dogs and burgers, is a welcome sight at the family cookout. But fire anywhere else can make your summer kick-off barbecue memorable for the wrong reasons.
Facts and Figures
Source: NFPA's One-Stop Data Shop
- In 2002, gas and charcoal grills caused 900 structure fires and 3.500 outdoor fires in or on home properties, resulting in a combined direct property loss of $30 million.
- Gas grills have a higher fire risk than Charcoal grills; leaks and breaks are the leading cause, according for nearly half of gas grill fires.
- Gas-fueled grills caused an estimated 600 home structure fires and 3,200 home outdoor fires in 2002.
- Placing combustibles too close to heat, and leaving cooking unattended, are the two leading causes for charcoal grill home structure fires.
- Half of all gas grill and charcoal grill home structure fires begin on an exterior balcony or enclosed porch.
- Gas and Charcoal BBQ grills must only be used outdoors. If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces, such as tents, they pose both a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to toxic gases and potential asphyxiation.
- Position the grill well away from siding, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
- Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic.
- Keep children and pets away from the grill area. Declare a three-foot "safe zone" around the grill.
- Put out several long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames when flipping burgers.
- Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.
- Purchase the proper starter fluid. Store the can out of children's reach and away from heat sources.
- Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going.
REMEMBER: Recommendations for Heat Emergencies
Check the gas cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will quickly reveal escaping propane by releasing bubbles. If you determine 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.
- If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
- If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
- If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.
- Use only equipment bearing the mark of an independent testing laboratory. Follow the manufacturers' instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.
- Never store propane gas cylinders in buildings or garages. If you store a gas grill inside during the winter, disconnect the cylinder and leave it outside.
There are three types of heat emergencies you should be concerned about.
- Heat Stroke
This is the most serious type of heat emergency. It is LIFE-THREATENING and requires IMMEDIATE and AGGRESSIVE treatment!
Heat stroke occurs when the body's heat regulating mechanism fails. The body temperature rises so high that brain damage and death may result unless the body is cooled quickly.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS:
The victim's skin is HOT, RED and usually DRY. Pupils are very small. The body temperature is VERY HIGH, sometimes as high as 105 degrees.
Remember, Heat Stroke is a life-threatening emergency and requires prompt action! Summon professional help. Get the victim into a cool place. COOL THE VICTIM AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE IN ANY MANNER POSSIBLE! Place the victim in a bathtub of cool water, wrap in wet sheets, and place in an air-conditioned room. Do not give victim anything by mouth. Treat for shock.
- Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is less dangerous than heat stroke. It is caused by fluid loss, which in turn causes blood flow to decrease in vital organs, resulting in a form of shock.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:
COOL, PALE AND MOIST skin, heavy sweating, dilated pupils (wide), headache, nausea, dizziness and vomiting. Body temperature will be near normal.
Get the victim out of the heat and into a cool place. Place in the shock position, lying on the back with feet raised. Remove or loosen clothing. Cool by fanning or applying cold packs or wet towels or sheets. If conscious, give water to drink every 15 minutes.
IMPORTANT: WHILE HEAT EXHAUSTION IS NOT A LIFE- THREATENING EMERGENCY LIKE HEAT STROKE, IT CAN PROGRESS TO HEAT STROKE IF LEFT UNTREATED!
- Heat Cramps
Heat cramps are muscular pain and spasms due to heavy exertion. They usually involve the abdominal muscles or legs. It is generally thought this condition is caused by loss of water and salt through sweating.
Get victim to a cool place. If they can tolerate it, give one-half glass of water every 15 minutes. Heat cramps can usually be avoided by increasing fluid intake when active in hot weather.