What Are the 2 Dangers of Propane Grills?

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2 Dangers of Propane Grills

Propane grills have two main dangers: bodily injuries, and damage to objects and property.

Most people think a propane grill is completely safe for cooking. There is no denying that it barbecue grilling much easier. No more waiting for a charcoal fire to heat up, no messing with charcoal fluid, which can be hazardous itself. Besides, cleaning burned ash is a dirty, messy job that takes extra time. All those problems get eliminated with a propane gas grill.

However, that doesn’t mean there are no downsides. Let’s face it. Anything you use that has a high temperature, or high pressure, such as a gas tank, whether it is a gas grill, charcoal, pellet, wood or even electric can cause a problem. Even if they’re the best one you can buy. For example, the “National Fire Prevention Association says there are over 7000 gas grill fires every year, many from leaking propane”.  A slow imperceptible gas leak can result in a buildup of gas, which can result in an explosion, in the event of a spark or flame.

In this post, we are going to address the main hazards of propane grills in detail. There are two main accidents that can occur: First, bodily injuries, such as burns, limb loss, and shrapnel cuts. Second, property damage. Either one of these can not only result in serious damage and suffering, but can also leave you legally liable for damages due to negligence. Let’s have a look at the major ones in detail below:

Types of Injuries

Painful burns

Four kinds of burns:

  • First-degree burns affect the upper part of the skin.  Your skin will usually appear to be red, like a bad sunburn. And it will be painful but not seriously so. These usually heal fairly quickly.
  • Second degree burns, are a more severe burn going to deeper layers of the skin. They’re often marked by blisters and you may see swelling and moistness. If it’s not severe, it will heal over time. However, a more severe second degree burn goes deeper in the dermis and may show long term discoloration and scarring.
  • Third-degree burns have extensive damage to the skin. Nerves die and the skin may appear black, white or yellow or brown. It can take weeks or even years to get healed properly.
  • Fourth degree burns burn down below the skin, affecting tissues such as muscle, and may never heal properly.

You can usually treat first and second degree burns at home, but third and fourth degree burns could have complications, so a doctor’s treatment may well be advisable.

That’s why it is strongly suggested to stay cautious while using a propane gas.

According to Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates, roughly 600 propane tank explosions occur each year. Every accident is different and is the product of the attendant circumstances, so one cannot accurately predict without examining the circumstances present at the accident.*

Limb Loss

Can a grill propane tank explode?

A propane tank can explode due to either:

  • Overfilling the gas
  • Leaving it in a hot space even in hot sun. The gas could expand, with the resulting pressure causing an explosion

Propane tank cylinders can explode and can cause loss of an arm, a finger, or a hand or even disfigurement of face or loss of vision. Hundreds of people have lost their limbs due to the explosions caused by a propane tank exploding or leaking. Leving a propane tank near a grill fire is a big mistake.

Shrapnel Injuries

Explosion of a propane tank results in the launch of debris. One can have dangerous cuts due to these pieces of metal cutting skin or even someone’s eye.

Property Damage

If a propane tank leaks due to faulty valves or even misuse, serious damage can result. In addition, house fires can occur if a propane grill is located too close to structures or other objects. For example, the National Fire Protection Association cited these daunting statistics:

Grilling fire facts

  • July is the peak month for grill fires (17%), including both structure,

outdoor or unclassified fires, followed by June (14%), May (13%) and

August (12%).

  • In 2013-2017, an average of 19,000 patients per year went to emergency rooms because of injuries involving

grills.** Half (9,300 or 49%) of the injuries were thermal burns, including both burns from fire and from contact with hot objects; 5,200 thermal burns, per year, were caused by such contact or other non-fire events.

  • Children under five accounted for an average of 2,000 or 38%, of the contact-type burns per year. These

burns typically occurred when someone, often a child, bumped into, touched or fell on the grill, grill part or hot coals.

  • Gas grills were involved in an average of 8,700 home fires per year, including 3,600 structure fires

and 5,100 outdoor fires annually. Leaks or breaks were primarily a problem with gas grills. Eleven percent of gas grill structure fires and 23% of outside gas grill fires were caused by leaks or breaks.

  • Charcoal or other solid-fueled grills were involved in 1,100 home fires per year, including 600 structure fires and 500 outside fires annually.

Source: NFPA’s Research, Data & Analytics Division

* Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (HPBA)

**Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, queried in April 2016

These are examples of injuries and accidents that can be caused by improper use of propane grills.

How to Use a Propane Grill Safely

Needless to say, the above accidents are not the norm. There are simple things you can do to avoid such problems described here. Specifically,

  • Check valves, gas lines, connections to make sure they’re in good condition
  • Make sure there are no gas leaks, by using soapy water in areas where there could be a leak. Bubbles will appear, letting you know that place needs attention
  • Only have an authorized dealer refill a gas tank, so that the tank is not overfilled
  • Be sure to have your local fire department phone number is handy, in case of fire
  • You can even ask your local fire department to check your set up. They can spot any hazards.
  • Even charcoal grills can cause a problem if you place them to close to flammable objects.
  • Keep your propane tank away from areas of excessive heat, in an open ventilated space, so that gas cannot collect
  • Keep children away from fire and flame. Don’t let them play with propane tanks or valves.

Conclusion

The vast majority of people use their propane grills safely over many years. You can too, by simply exercising awareness of the risky situations. Also, be sure that children don’t get themselves into trouble. Watch them carefully around your propane tank or grill.  For recommendations on the best grills click here.

As you can clearly see, there are some serious dangers associated with propane grills. That’s why it is strongly suggested that there should be necessary arrangements made by the users to avoid such situations. The explosion in propane tanks can take place due to a great array of events and circumstances.

Use good judgement whenever you are using your grill. For more ideas on how to use a propane grill properly, check our blog articles.

Thanks for reading!

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Eric Arnow