Protecting Apartment Homes: 7 Tips to Safe Grilling
It’s Labor Day. What are you grilling? Labor Day’s arrival marks the start of the end-of-year holiday season when thoughts turn to preparing feasts on an open flame inside and outside apartments. For the next four months, through Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the smell of kitchens and patios will tantalize the senses and put appetites in overdrive.
At the same time, apartments face a potentially stiff liability in fires that are started by grilling or stove-top cooking. Gas grills are a high risk and responsible for an annual average of 7,200 home fires from 2007 to 2011, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Charcoal or other solid-fueled grills were involved in an average of 1,400 home fires.
During this period, 10 people died, 140 were injured and property damage cost $96 million. More than a quarter of the home structure fires involved grills in a courtyard, or on a terrace or patio. About 30 percent were on an exterior balcony or open porch.
Residents will naturally flock to community grills for Labor Day cookouts at apartments across the country. Some may defy property rules and cook on their terraces, porches or balconies. In either case, carelessness on behalf of weekend chefs could cost an apartment millions of dollars in damages.
Properties should encourage residents to grill responsibly if cooking outdoors is permitted on the property. The ambiance of searing meat and vegetables under blue skies or evening shade is a desirable amenity for any apartment and should be practiced safely.
Here are Property Management Insider’s top seven tips property managers should consider sharing with residents during the holiday season:
Inspect grills to ensure proper working order
Have the maintenance team inspect common-area grills prior to the holiday to make sure they are in working order. This includes checking connections on gas grills to ensure they are tight and not leaking.
Maintain safe distance from structures and enforce rules
Remind residents that state laws for maintaining safe distances from structures may exist and that they are subject to enforcement. Many states and municipalities will require that outdoor grilling at multifamily buildings can take place no closer than 10-30 feet. Also, enforce rules that prohibit grilling on balconies and porches.
Keep a fire extinguisher near grilling areas
Store a working fire extinguisher within arm’s reach of the grill, and make sure it’s tested and ready to go for use at any time, regardless of holidays. If a fire extinguisher is not available, provide a bucket of water or sand to douse fires that get out of control.
Designate safe distances from grills
Maintain a safety zone of at least three feet around the grill for kids and pets to avoid being splattered by hot grease or doused by fire if flames get out of control. Suggest that a three-foot radius around the grill be clearly designated so everybody knows the safe boundary. The larger the radius, however, the less chance for potential disaster.
Use proper tools and protection when grilling
Encourage residents to use the proper tools to avoid catching clothing on fire. Long-handled tongs and flame resistant protective gloves should be worn by people who are tending to food on the grill. Properties may want to provide gloves and tongs to residents wishing to use common-area grills. It’s a great way to show you care about a resident’s safety.
Encourage use of approved ignition fluids
Only approved ignition fluids should be used for grills that require charcoal or other solid-igniter materials. Residents should never use gasoline to ignite a grill.
Properly dispose of ashes and briquettes
Remind residents that just because the shrimp has been taken off the barbie, the grilling experience isn’t over. Charcoal ashes and briquettes may still be hot enough to start a fire. Ashes and used briquettes should be disposed of in a metal container and allowed to cool down for at least 48 hours before disposal.
By following our recommended steps, you can breathe a little easier and relax like everyone else this Labor Day weekend.
(Image source: Shutterstock)