SPRING HILL, Tenn. (WKRN) — The official start to summer is quickly approaching, but grilling season is already well underway. Fire officials want to make sure this summertime activity doesn’t turn into a blazing situation.

“Grill safety is definitely something that we take for granted as we’re outside cooking on those holidays and in the summertime,” said Spring Hill Fire Chief Victor “Graig” Temple.

According to the National Security Home Alliance, every year an estimated 8,900 grill fires happen at U.S. homes, leading to an average of $110 million in related damages. Officials also estimate that an average of 10 people die every year as a result of grilling incidents. These incidents can occur due to a variety of grilling mishaps.

“A lot of people don’t clean their grills well enough and the grease buildup sometimes in the base of the grill, which then causes a grease fire and complicates things because, if you typically have your propane cylinder attached to that, a lot of people have their grills connected straight to their house with a gas line there, so that also becomes problematic,” Temple said.

Temple’s summer grilling tips include:

  • Never leave your grill unattended
  • Make sure your pets are positioned away from the grilling site
  • Properly clean the grill
  • Check your charcoal when you are done grilling
  • Keep at least 25 feet between your grilling device and your home
  • Ensure that you are cooking at the right temperature

Temple said it’s important to take into consideration where you are grilling in proximity to your house.

“Because of the way most of our homes are set up where the patio is right next to the house, people don’t give themselves enough space between their home and the grill. When a grill fire does occur and it’s burning at a very high temperature, if it is close to the house, even if you think your siding is non-combustible or you could be under a soffit or an awning, those materials catch fire very well and they can get into your house very quickly,” Temple said.

Fire officials from across the country, including the National Fire Protection Association, want to make you aware of these tips that could ultimately be lifesaving.

“Across the fire service, we’re seeing a lot more fires that are called ‘outside to inside’ fires simply because of this, whether it’s a vehicle fire in the driveway or whether it’s a grill. Those fires get going in the garage or soffit over something very simple that could have been prevented by giving yourself some more space,” said Temple.

Fire officials also recommend keeping an extinguisher and baking powder nearby if you plan to grill at home, because water can act as an accelerant, especially in grease fires.