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Fire department issues barbecue safety

Tech. Sgt. Jarrad Phillips, 50th Security Forces Squadron NCO in charge of installation security, and Staff Sgt. Shaun Caviness, 50 SFS unit deployment manager, grill burgers and hotdogs during a crime prevention barbecue May 18 at the Tierra Vista baseball field. Law enforcement personnel from Schriever, Colorado Springs Police Department and the El Paso County Sheriff’s office attended the event to talk about local crime prevention programs. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes)

The Schriever Fire Department wants to remind everyone to always think about safety whenever you barbecue. According to the Colorado Springs Uniform Fire Code “For other than one-and two-family dwellings, no hibachi, grill or other similar devices used for cooking, heating, or any other purpose shall be used or kindled on any balcony, under any overhanging portion or within 10 feet of any structure.” (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- What image does summer season conjure up? Lazy days, full of sunshine and laughter? Good food and good fun? You might have a different image, one of serious burns. In 2011, 16,900 patients went to emergency rooms because of injuries involving grills. Though not always fatal, these accidents can spoil your fun after a long day at work.

According to the Colorado Springs Uniform Fire Code "For other than one-and two-family dwellings, no hibachi, grill or other similar devices used for cooking, heating, or any other purpose shall be used or kindled on any balcony, under any overhanging portion or within 10 feet of any structure."

Today, with more Americans lighting their barbecue grills at anytime than ever before, it is important to always remember that a successful barbecue is a safe barbecue. So let's get the grill ready to go!

Whenever you barbecue, set up the grill in an open area away from buildings and overhead combustible surfaces. Be sure to avoid high traffic areas and always barbecue in a well-ventilated area. Be aware of wind blown sparks. When using a barbecue grill be sure all parts of the unit are firmly in place and the grill is stable. Make sure the barbecue is at least 5 feet or better yet 10 feet from the house or any other material that could catch fire. Only open your propane tank a quarter to one-half turn. That's all the gas your barbecue needs to operate, and if you have a problem, then it's much easier to shut off. Unless you're keen on joining the space program, always open the barbecue lid before you light it. If it doesn't fire up the first time you try it, then shut it down, and try it again in about five minutes. Wear clothing that does not have hanging shirt tails, frills or apron strings. Never wear loose, flowing clothing when tending a barbeque. From the time you light the barbecue, until you're finished cooking, stay with your fire. Accidents can happen when you leave a barbecue unattended.

Safety first
Always make sure the barbecue is in a safe place. Keep in mind the barbecue will still be hot after you finish cooking, and anyone could be burned. When you're finished barbecuing, always make sure that you not only shut off the barbecue, but shut off the propane tank as well. Always store propane tanks outside, in a well-ventilated area.

The following are a few tips for charcoal grillers:

- Never use gasoline to get the coals going; use only charcoal lighting fluid.
- Let the lighter fluid soak into the coals for a minute or so before lighting it. That gives the explosive vapors a chance to dissipate.
- Stand back from the coals when you ignite them, and make sure you didn't accidentally spill any fluid on yourself or on any area surrounding the grill.
- Before you light the coals, make sure you put the lighter fluid at a safe distance away from the fire.
- If the coals start to die out, don't spray lighter fluid on the hot coals. You could end up with explosive results.
- Always extinguish the coals when you're finished barbecuing. Here's a safe way to do it. Wearing oven mitts, take the coals out of the barbecue with tongs and submerge them in a metal pail of water.

Its' been a long day, and you're basking in the sun. In one hand, you're holding a cool drink; in the other a spatula. A couple of juicy steaks are sizzling on the grill, and you're savoring the smell of the flavorful smoke as it drifts past your nose. Let this be what you remember most about your barbecue.

For more information, call the fire department at 567-3370.
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