Safe Grilling Tips for National Grilling Month

Ah, the smell of backyard barbecue—one of the best aromas of summer! July is National Grilling Month, and the height of “grilling season” across the US. And while most people go their whole lifetimes without an incident, July is also peak month for grill fires, resulting in thousands of injuries and millions of dollars of property damage each year. While fire is a covered peril under your homeowner’s insurance, no one wants to deal with the trauma and hassle of coping with a house fire.

So before you fire up that grill, protect your property and loved ones with these key grilling safety tips.

Grilling safety tips

Always operate your propane or charcoal grill outdoors in a well-ventilated area. In addition to posing a fire risk, grills produce deadly carbon monoxide fumes—so never use your grill inside your house or garage.

Position your grill well away from your home, garage, deck railings, overhanging branches, or shrubs. Make sure it’s on a flat and level surface so that it won’t tip over or roll. Don’t move the grill once it’s lit.

Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill, and never leave it unattended. Make sure matches and lighters are not where children can reach them.

Keep your distance from the heat and flames by using long-handled tools when grilling.

Keep a fire extinguisher handy in case of a grill fire. Grill fires are basically the same as grease fires, so using water won’t work and can be dangerous. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher, you can try smothering the flames by closing the lid and grill vents to cut off oxygen to the fire. If you can do so safely, you may also pour baking soda on the flames.

If there’s any danger of the fire spreading to your home (or a neighbor’s), call the fire department immediately. House fires can spread rapidly.

If you have a gas/propane grill:

Before you grill for the first time this season, or if you haven’t already done so, check that tank hoses are in good condition with no leaks or blockages. Apply a 50/50 soap and water solution, and if you see bubbles, there’s a leak. Turn off the propane, and have the tank serviced professionally. You can use a pipe cleaner or wire to clear any blockages.

Make sure the lid is open when lighting the grill. If the lid is closed, gas can build up and cause a fireball.

Don’t lean over the grill as you light it.

If a burner won’t light or goes out after lighting, turn off the grill and wait at least five minutes before trying again.

Remember to turn off the gas when you’re done grilling!

Note: if you can still smell gas after you turn off the grill, call the fire department.

If you have a charcoal grill:

If you use starter fluid to light your coals, only use fluid specifically made for grilling. Once you’ve lighted the charcoal, do not add more lighter fluid. You might also want to try an alternate method for lighting charcoal, such as a charcoal chimney starter that uses newspaper as fuel.

Once you’re done cooking, close the air vents to let the coals begin to cool. Let coals cool completely before disposing of them in a metal container.

After you grill

Keep your grill clean. Not only will you avoid potential fire hazards, the food you cook will taste better! Scrape down grill grates and clean drip trays. Keep your grill covered to protect it from dirt, insects, and moisture.

Always store propane tanks outside and away from your house.

Maintain your grill, use it safely, and know what to do in an emergency, and you’ll be able to enjoy some good times and good food while grilling this summer. Let us know what time to come over—we’ll bring the potato salad!

Protect your home from fire as well as other perils by buying the right homeowners insurance for your situation. The agents at L & M Insurance Group will help you navigate the confusing Florida homeowners insurance market. Please call us at 813-672-4100 or email us for a free homeowners insurance quote. L & M Insurance Group is a full-service, independent insurance agency.


Simple Ways to Avoid Holiday Hazards

The holidays are almost here! You’re probably looking forward to spending time with family and friends, enjoying delicious meals, and giving and receiving gifts. Maybe you’re even going to travel to spend a holiday with far off loved ones.

As you prepare to travel or host festivities for family or friends, L & M Insurance Group would like to remind you to take a few simple precautions so you can have a safe and crime-free holiday season.

Safe at home

Hosting meals and decorating the house for holiday cheer doesn’t seem risky, but it is! Falls and fires are two of the most common holiday hazards to watch out for. In fact, home fires are the most frequent disaster in the US, according to the American Red Cross, and many of them take place during the holiday season. Cooking fires peak on Thanksgiving Day, with Christmas Day not far behind. Stay in the kitchen when something is cooking, and be sure no decorations are near the stove where they could catch fire.

Christmas trees, candles, and holiday lights can be the cause of a fire, so take precautions. Keep real trees well watered, and all decorations at least three feet from heat sources. And don’t forget fireplace safety. Make sure the flue is open before lighting a fire, and keep all decorations and Christmas stockings well away from it. Also, don’t burn wrapping paper—it can flare up dangerously. Store matches and lighters up high in a locked cupboard to keep them out of children’s hands.

Click here for holiday decoration safety tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Click here for more holiday fire safety tips.

In addition to fires, injuries from falls are another holiday hazard to watch out for. If you need to climb a ladder to hang lights or other decorations, make sure you position it properly and keep three points of contact on it at all times (two feet and one hand, for example). Also keep doorways and walkways clear of extension cords, decorations, bags, toys, and gifts—anything that could cause someone to trip and fall.

Don’t be a crime victim

Criminals often take advantage of the extra shopping (both in person and online) and packages being delivered. Reduce the chances of being victimized with these tips from the Florida Sheriff’s Association:

  • Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket.
  • Park in a well-lighted area and be sure to lock your car doors.
  • Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle.
  • Check the back seat and around the car before getting in.
  • Avoid carrying cash if at all possible. Use credit cards instead.
  • Double check that you have your credit cards and wallet after you pay for your items.
  • Save all receipts. Print and save all confirmations from your online purchases.
  • If you are shopping with your children, talk to them ahead of time about what to do if they get lost in the crowd.
  • When shopping online use secure websites for purchases. Look for the icon of a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen or “https” in the URL address.
  • Beware of online “bargains” from companies with whom you are unfamiliar—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

At home, don’t advertise your gifts by leaving them in plain sight, or by putting the boxes they came in out for garbage collection. Break down the boxes and put them in your recycling bin or inside a trash bag.

Leaving home?

Don’t let your home become a target of thieves. Package thefts and home break-ins spike between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. If you plan to travel this holiday season, don’t announce your plans on social media. Make your home look “lived in” while you’re gone. Set some lights on a timer (including outdoor lights), and perhaps ask a neighbor to park a car in your driveway. Have mail and newspapers held, or ask friend or neighbor to pick them up for you. Make sure all doors and windows are locked, and trim back any landscaping around your home so thieves have nowhere to hide. Leave a key and a contact number with a friend or neighbor, but don’t hide one outside. Thieves are familiar with all the best hiding spots.

Protect your valuables

Taking precautions to avoid holiday hazards such as fires, falls, and crime can help you have a much happier and safer holiday season. Another way to protect your valuables is to carry insurance tailor-made for your situation. If you need an auto policy, homeowners insurance, or umbrella policy to cover some of those new Christmas gifts, please consider giving L & M Insurance Group a call. We represent dozens of financially stable insurance companies for all your personal and business insurance needs. Please call 813-672-4100, or click here to contact us online—and have a very happy (and safe) holiday season!