That quintessential summer get-together — a barbecue with friends and family — generally generates good-time feelings, but not always. About 16,600 people go to an emergency room each year because of an accident tied to grilling, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. About half of those injuries are thermal burns, caused by fire or contact with something ultrahot. Of the contact injuries, a third are to children younger than 5, hurt when they bump, touch or fall on some part of the grill or hot coals. Each year, fire departments respond to an average of 9,600 fires related to home grilling, reports the National Fire Protection Association. With gas grills, which account for about 80 percent of such fires, a leak or break is most often to blame. Whether gas- or charcoal-fed, grills that are not cleaned often trigger fires because of a buildup of grease and fat from previous cookings. When cleaning a grill, though, be careful with wire-bristle brushes: A bristle left lingering on the grilling surface could stick to a piece of food and be swallowed.
Use grills only outside, well away from deck railings, overhanging tree branches and house walls. Keep kids and pets away from the grill, and never leave it unattended. Check the Consumer Product Safety Commission website for a list of other grilling safety tips.