(WWLP) – The 4th of July weekend can be a time for cookouts, but grill fires can be just as dangerous as fireworks.

Mass.gov states that between 2016 and 2020 Massachusetts fire departments were called to 427 fires involving grills, hibachis, and barbecues. As a result of these fires, there was 15 civilian injuries, 6 firefighter injuries, and $4 million in property damage.

Grill Safety

Grilling safety measures to take during this holiday weekend, according to Mass.gov:

  • Always grill outdoors.
  • Grills must be 10 feet from the side of a building unless the manufacturer’s instructions say it can be closer. Make sure grills are not underneath overhanging branches.
  • Grills cannot be used on a porch, balcony or deck with a roof, overhang or wall (other than the exterior of the building).
  • Grills can only be used on open first floor porches, decks or patios if there is an outdoor stairway to the ground, or the porch is at ground level.
  • Grills cannot be used on fire escapes.
  • Place grills away from the house and deck railings.
  • Keep all matches, lighters and lighter fluid away from children.
  • Keep children and pets three feet away from grills. Children should never play near grills or propane cylinders.

Handling Propane

Mass.gov advises keeping all propane outdoors and at least 10 feet away from building openings like doors, windows, and dryer vents, as well as 20 feet away from air intake vents and ignition sources, if utilizing propane as a heat source for a grill.

Do not to smoke when handling a propane tank, and keep propane tanks upright in a shaded location of the outside.

Additionally, it is advised not to leave cylinders in a car. Wherever they could be exposed to high temperatures, cylinders shouldn’t be utilized, stored, or transported.

Gas Grill Care & Maintenance

Mass.gov says that before turning on the gas, to make sure all connections are securely fastened. By applying a solution of soapy water to the connections and briefly turning on the gas, you may check for leaks.

Before using the grill, a leak must be rectified if bubbles appear. Never check for leaks using matches or lighters. Check for grease or insect nest-related clogs in the tubes leading to the burners. To remove obstructions, use a wire or pipe cleaner.

Every time you grill, empty the grease trap. Take damaged tanks and grills to a propane retailer or a skilled appliance repairman. Any propane cylinders that are worn, rusted, or otherwise in need of replacement should be done so.

Charcoal Grill Protection

Use only starter fluid for charcoal. Kerosene and gasoline shouldn’t be used to light a barbecue fire. Never add lighter fluid to hot coals or burning briquettes. This could start a flash fire and lead to severe burn damage, Mass.gov implied.

Carbon monoxide, a gas that has no color or smell and is potentially fatal, is released by charcoal briquettes. Always use a well-ventilated location while using a charcoal barbecue. Never operate a charcoal barbecue inside.

Allow the coals to burn out entirely and then let them cool for 48 hours before disposing of the barbecue ashes properly. Ash should be fully soaked in water before being placed in a metal container if it must be disposed of before it has entirely cooled.

Cookout Food Choices

22News asked Facebook users what food item they like to bring to the cookout for 4th of July.

“Homemade baked beans and potato salad! Yum, yum!”

“Potato Salad and butterscotch pudding squares.”

“BBQ kielbasa.”