Grill Safety: The Day I Almost Lost My Family

It was an ordinary summer evening.

I was at the grocery store picking up some last minute items for supper. I had left my kids playing in the backyard with my husband, who was putting some pork chops on the grill.

That’s when I got the phone call.

Grill Safety The Day I Almost Lost My Family

“You have to come home. I can’t do this with the kids around.”

I wanted to tell him to put on his big boy pants and get it done. Making dinner with the kids around is something I do almost every single day. When I got home, he told me the scary truth of what actually took place.

The grease in the bottom of our propane grill caught fire. It started to get out of hand quickly, so he told the kids to get in the house. Instead, they stood in awe of the fire. He yelled at them in desperation and they listened, only to press their little faces up against the window, less than 10 feet from the burning grill.

He ran inside to grab baking soda, then back outside to throw it on the flames, as you should with a kitchen grease fire. One box of baking soda was nowhere near enough needed for the surface area of a grill. Worried now, he thought about the fire getting to the hose running to the propane tank. The whole thing could blow up. He wasn’t sure where a fire extinguisher was, so he grabbed the hose and began dousing the flames. Although it was the wrong thing to do in a grease fire, it worked in this case.

The fire was out.

Later, he checked over the grill. To his horror, he found the hose running to the propane tank nearly melted through. That hose was all that stood between my family, and the unthinkable.

The Day I Almost Lost My Family: A Lesson in Grill Safety

According to the National Fire Protection Association, “More than 6,100 accidental fires and explosions occur [each year] due to the improper use of grills, resulting in 20,000 emergency room visits and $29.1 million of estimated damage.” Sadly, approximately 20 deaths each year are attributed to propane fires and explosions associated with gas grills.

I could have arrived home to find our street full of flashing lights. My first and only love, and my three beautiful babies….my whole world could have all been gone in an instant.

The Day I Almost Lost My Family: A Lesson in Grill Safety

Grill Safety

Protect your home and family right now by checking out these important grilling safety tips. Be sure to regularly clean the grease out of your grill. After cleaning the grease drip tray, my husband uses a shop vac to remove any remaining debris from the bottom of the grill. You can also see this grill cleaning guide for tips. Finally, be sure to purchase a fire extinguisher to store near your grill.

“This is an emergency!”

Our children didn’t initially listen to my husband’s direction to get away when the grill was on fire. That put them in danger as well as took valuable time needed to put it out. After the averted disaster, we have taught our young children that when we say, “This is an emergency!” they need to listen carefully and follow the directions as fast as they can. They know we only will say that phrase when we need their help in a serious situation.

Tip: Tell your children exactly where to go and what to do. “Stay back!” is an abstract direction. If you tell them to run and put their hand on the the shed or swing set, they will be able to do it and stay safe.

Teach Children to Call 911

Teaching your children when and how to call 911 is too important to put off. Start today. You’ll find more information and good tips for for teaching children to call 911 right here. This app can help, too.

Tip: A landline is preferred for calling 911. Since we don’t have one, an old phone stays plugged in where our kids can reach it in our bedroom. Old phones without service CAN still call 911. However, the child must know their address because the GPS will also be disabled. I put our address on a card next to what we now call our “911 phone.”

We can’t prevent every bad thing from happening to our families, but we can be prepared for grilling season by simply taking some time today to educate ourselves and our children. Please don’t wait for a tragedy or even an almost-tragedy to happen to you.

May your summer be filled with ordinary evenings!

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  1. This is very timely for me. I live in a condominium complex and a neighbor in the building next to mine just had a fire on his deck from a meat smoker dripping grease. Unfortunately, he was not on his deck when the fire started and it took some time before a passer by noticed the smoke. There is speculation that the fire spread and ignited his propane tank a few feet away. Luckily the fire department was able to contain the fire, but still two families homes have been destroyed – one by the fire and the other through water from fighting the fire and others have been affected by minor damage and power outages. Considering this building houses 12 units, things could have been so much worse, had the wind shifted the fire could have spread to overhanging trees and quickly spread to more buildings. The flames were huge and I’m still surprised it didn’t spread even more. This is a good lesson to never leave your grill, smoker or kitchen when you’re cooking, things can go wrong so fast.

  2. WOW! Such an important reminder of how FAST fire can spread. YES! Never leave your grill or smoker! Thank you for that tip!

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