Considering grilling safety in high risk wildfire areas


By LisaMarie Sinatra

I must admit, I find it hard to fathom grilling right now, let alone spring or summer here in the Northeast as another couple of inches of snow fell Friday night and bitter cold is slated for this week.

But Sunday morning I was watching a news program and was reminded that while the Northeast is still bundled up in parkas and hats, the rest of the country has been dealing with quite the opposite challenge, a lack of precipitation and unseasonably warm temperatures. So while those of here in New England are still digging out our grills from the snow, many more families outside this area have already fired theirs up, cooking their favorite summer fare.

So today, I’d like to add a twist to the grilling fire safety story and instead of talking solely about grilling issues related to structural fires, I want to relate this very serious issue to the WUI and the challenge of grilling in high risk wildfire areas.

A recent online article on NC1 News out of Rapid City, South Dakota speaks to this very issue. With little precipitation in recent months, the Rapid City Fire Department has warned the public to take caution when using grills, especially when lighting charcoal, due to high winds that accompany the dry weather. I know it’s not always top of mind but remember, embers from flames shooting up from the grill can easily be whisked away by these winds and land in trees or on the grass sparking a fire.

According to the article, the U.S drought monitor shows 82 percent of South Dakota as abnormally dry or in moderate conditions already, and predictions point to these conditions persisting or intensifying through June.

Home fires involving grilling incidents occur most often in the months of June and July, and with the added concerns about drought, increasing temperatures and high winds, grilling not only poses a threat to houses, it can also start a grass or brush fire in our yards and quickly spread throughout the neighborhood. As you work on ways to safeguard your grill, try and take an extra step and include safety measures around your home. By following a few simple Firewise and grilling safety tips, you can reduce the risk of a fire happening in and around your home.

NFPA has some great resources for grilling enthusiasts you can use right now including an infographic and tips sheet. Download both and tack them to the fridge for easy access. Also, you’ll want to visit our grilling page often over the next few months because we’ll be adding new resources you can use and share with friends and family.

In the meantime, let us know how we can help. What are you doing to keep yourself and your family safer from fire? Have stories you want to share about how families can stay safer while grilling? Have you created a safer home ignition zone around your house using Firewise principles in action? We want to hear from you!

Find out more about grilling fire safety at And learn more about the home ignition zone and the Firewise Communities Program at

And here’s to hoping that spring and summer will soon reach the Northeast!

Source:: NFPA – Safety Information

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