"Burning Down the House" Should Be Party Soundtrack, Not Your Result
Quick question: What national event will be celebrated by millions of Americans on Memorial Day weekend?
Hint: It involves major partying, extreme danger, risk of major injuries, and bone-crushing crashes.
Another hint: “Gentlemen, start your...”
Yes, friends, this year Memorial Day is the official kickoff to outdoor BBQ season. Maybe you were thinking the Indianapolis 500? Hah! When it comes to thrills and danger, nothing trumps a fired up, hard-partying bunch of folks gathered round the grill. Add in a pool or a crowded deck or balcony, and keep those ambulances and your homeowners insurance on call.
What can go wrong?
According to the National Fire Protection Association, here is the cookout track record from the last five years:
- U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 8,200 home fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues per year, including an average of 3,400 structure fires and 4,800 outside fires. These 8,200 fires caused an annual average of 15 civilian deaths, 120 civilian injuries and $75 million in direct property damage.
- More than one-quarter (29%) of the home structure fires involving grills started on a courtyard, terrace or patio, 28% started on an exterior balcony or open porch, and 6% started in the kitchen.
- In 50% of the home outdoor fires in which grills were involved, 55% of the outside gas grills, and 36% of gas grill structure fires, the fire started when a flammable or combustible gas or liquid caught fire.
The good news? That homeowners policy recommended by your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent will cover accidental damages such as the above whether you burn down your house or the whole neighborhood. It also will respond for liability arising from that party near the pool or the deck or balcony that collapses under the strain of all those partying guests.
But you, we, your guests and we really would prefer no fire or hospital trip, so here are a few safety and prevention tips:
- Grills are for outside, only. Never barbecue in your trailer, tent, house, garage, or any enclosed area. The carbon monoxide also may accumulate and kill you.
- Use in well-ventilated area. Avoid fire hazards as well as potentially fatal carbon monoxide poisoning by setting up your grill in an open area that is away from buildings, overhead combustible surfaces, dry leaves, or brush. Be sure to avoid high traffic areas and be aware of wind-blown sparks.
- Keep grill stable. Be sure that all parts of the unit are firmly in place and that the grill can’t be tipped over.
- If electrically-operated accessories are used (rotisseries, etc.), be sure they are properly grounded in accordance with local codes. Electrical cords should be placed away from walkways or anywhere people can trip over them.
- Use barbecue utensils with long handles (forks, tongs, etc.) to avoid burns and splatters.
- Wear clothing that does not have hanging shirt tails, frills, or apron strings that can catch fire, and use flame-retardant mitts when adjusting hot vents.
- Use baking soda to control a grease fire and have a fire extinguisher handy. A bucket of sand or a garden hose should be near if you don’t have a commercial extinguisher.
- Never leave a grill unattended once lit.
- Don’t allow anyone to conduct activity near the grill when in use or immediately following its use. The grill body remains hot for as long as an hour after being used.
- Never attempt to move a hot grill. It’s easy to stumble or drop it and serious burns could result.
Pool Party Safety
- Make sure there’s a phone nearby. In the event of a life-threatening emergency, having a point of contact within arm’s reach could very well be the difference between life and death.
- Designated a “guard.” When children are in the pool, make sure there’s always an adult supervising. If there’s more than one adult, they can alternate lookout shifts. Anyone who’s “on duty” should refrain from consuming alcoholic beverages.
- If you’ll be playing any games during the pool party, hold them at a considerable distance from the water to prevent accidental falls.
- Keep plenty of sunscreen, towels, and extra T-shirts on hand to protect tender skin from getting burned by UV rays.
- Anyone with a swimming pool on the premises should be fully trained in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
- Instruct swimmers to remain clear of any pool drains or filters that may pose hair-catching hazards.
- Make sure that all standard rescue equipment, such as flotation devices and safety poles, are nearby during your summer party. Although these tools should be easily accessible, they shouldn’t be kept in a place where children could be encouraged to use them as toys.
- When serving poolside meals or drinks at your summer party, use plastic glasses and tableware rather than glass, as the latter potentially could shatter and fall onto the pool deck or into the water.
- Nothing boosts the energy of a pool party like summer music, but be sure that all CD players, stereos, and other electronics are kept at a safe distance from the water to prevent electrocution.
- In the event of a thunderstorm, evacuate the pool and move the party indoors.
- Restrict diving to designated areas with sufficient depth and proper diving boards. Never let anyone dive off the edge of the pool or into shallow areas.
And to be certain your current homeowners coverage limits are equal to your grilling ambitions, talk with your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent today.