NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — In Tennessee, Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the summer season, full of fun activities with your family and friends, as well as delicious food. However, cooking certain seasonal dishes poses a potential fire risk.

According to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, seven out of every 10 adults in the U.S. have a grill or smoker, which creates a lot of tasty meals, but also increases the chances of a fire.

Between 2017 and 2021, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) said American fire departments responded to an average of 11,421 home fires per year involving grills, hibachis, or barbecues.

In order to prevent Music City houses and apartments from joining that statistic this holiday weekend, the Nashville Fire Department and the Nashville Office of Emergency Management shared the following tips from the NFPA:

  • Only use propane and charcoal BBQ grills outdoors.
  • Place the grill a safe distance from the home or deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep kids and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
  • Remove grease or fat buildup from the grills and in the trays below the grill.
  • Don’t leave your grill unattended.
  • Always make sure to open your gas grill lid before lighting it.
  • Charcoal grills:
    • There are several ways to start your charcoal:
      • Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal by using newspaper as a fuel.
      • If you use a starter fluid, only use charcoal starter fluid, making sure not to add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire. You should also keep charcoal fluid out of children’s reach and away from heat sources.
      • Electric charcoal starters do not require fire, but you’ll need an extension cord for outdoor use.
    • When you finish grilling, let the coals cool completely before you dispose of them in a metal container.
  • Propane grills:
    • Each year, you need to check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time:
      • Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose and watch for the release of bubbles, which indicates a propane leak.
      • If your grill has a gas leak — as indicated by the soapy bubble test or by the smell — and there is no flame, you need to turn off both the gas tank and the grill.
      • If the leak does stop, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
    • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill, without moving it, and call the fire department.
    • If the flame goes out, turn both the grill and the gas off. Then, wait at least five minutes before re-lighting it.

The NFPA reported that July was the peak month for grill fires, with 16% taking place that month. It was followed by June (14%), May (12%), and August (11%).

In addition, about half of the injuries involving grills are thermal burns, according to officials.

For more information about grilling safety, visit the NFPA’s website.