Oklahoma County is in a burn ban along with 35 other counties in the state, but outdoor cooking is NOT prohibited “provided that the activity is conducted over a nonflammable surface and at least five feet from flammable vegetation,” according to Gov. Mary Fallin’s burn ban decree issued May 5.
The document further notes butane-fueled pressurized stoves also are exempt from the burn ban.
But the decree warns that “any fire resulting from grilling or the use of one of these cookers or stoves is still an illegal fire.”
The National Fire Protection Association offers the following reminders:
•Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
•The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
•Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
•Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
•Never leave your grill unattended.
For charcoal grills
•There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.
•If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
•Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
•There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
•When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.
For propane grills
•Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If you determine your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and the grill. If the leak stops, 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 and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.
Jim Grigsby, third-generation owner of American Propane, said if your propane grill has been dormant for months, critter infestations can be a safety hazard. He said the No. 1 cause of gas grill fires is obstruction in the path of the fuel. He said very often insects or critters small enough to get behind, underneath or inside your grill where you do not look can move in and create problems.
“So you’ve got to get in there and clean everything out to make sure you don’t have anything affecting the flow of gas.”
•Check the tubes that lead into the burner for any blockage from insects, spiders or grease. Carefully remove any blockage with a a pipe cleaner or wire brush.
•Replace scratched or nicked connectors, which can eventually leak gas.
•When you’re ready to cook, first turn on the tank, then the grill. When you’re finished, turn the propane tank off first and then turn off the grill controls to minimize the amount of residual pressure left in the gas hose. Remember to keep the grill controls off and the propane cylinder valve closed when not in use.
•Keep a water hose or small fire extinguisher handy. In case of a grease fire, use baking soda, cat litter or sand.
•If you keep a spare propane tank, store it in a shaded area where temperatures won’t exceed 120 degrees. Store it away from the grill. Remember, a summer day in Oklahoma can turn a storage shed into an oven pretty quickly. The shady side of your house would be perfect.
•Move gas hoses as far away as possible from hot surfaces and dripping hot grease. If you can’t move the hoses, install a heat shield to protect them.