Don’t end up in the ER this holiday weekend

Avoid grill and fire pit injuries with an important checklist

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Memorial Day Holiday weekend means a lot of you will grill and chill by the fire pit, but before you light it up, it may be time for a grill checkup from an ER doctor who has seen a lot of what can happen when things go wrong.

“When you’re going to light your grill for the first time, whether it’s propane or even charcoal with lighter fluid, obviously you want to be careful. Suppose you aren’t able to light a gas grill after the first two attempts. In that case, you need to turn it off, let it air out and then inspect why it might not be working before you continue to try and light it to avoid any flare-ups or big explosions of gas,” said Dr. Tom Waters with Cleveland Clinic’s Emergency Department.

To avoid common grill injuries, Waters also suggests you:

  • Check your gas grill for leaks
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy
  • Avoid wearing long-sleeved shirts while cooking -- so your clothes don’t catch fire
  • Wear heat-resistant gloves
  • If using lighter fluid, be sure to move it further away once the grill is lit

When it comes to fire pits or bonfires, make sure there is enough space between the flames and your home.

“You gotta watch what you’re burning and where the wind is blowing,” said Waters. “If there’s a lot of embers and it’s blowing towards a structure, whether it’s your house, your neighbor’s house, your kids’ playhouse, you gotta monitor that because sometimes those hot embers could result in a fire somewhere else.”

Never leave a fire or a lit grill unattended and always put out the flames or shut the grill off before you go back inside.

If you do suffer a minor burn, Waters says you can treat it with cooling or antibiotic ointments. However, if the burn is larger than the palm of your hand, he says you should seek medical help.