Planning to grill out for Memorial Day? Tips from firefighters on how to do it safely

Memorial Day is one of the first major holidays since coronavirus restrictions throughout the D.C. region relaxed. If barbecues are your plans, here are some tips to keep your party safe.

Planning ahead is key when it comes to safe grilling, said Pete Piringer, spokesman for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service.

“The leading causes of fires involving grills are leaving the grill unintended, failure to clean the grill in the first place, placing the grill too close to something that might catch fire and improper disposal of the coals,” Piringer said.

And those coals should be placed in a metal container with a lid and left outside, D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services spokesman Vito Maggiolo said.

With the pandemic causing the cancellation of many party and vacation plans last year, it may have been a while since people got out their grill.

Grillers should reacquaint themselves with how to safely grill and prepare the grill before lighting it up.

“It may have been a long time since they’ve had the opportunity to use a grill, so these basic safety rules are important,” Maggiolo said.

Maggiolo wants to remind grillers that using charcoal grills on apartment balconies is forbidden in the District, as well.

“You don’t want a number to fall down under the deck or any other area where it can ignite a fire,” Maggiolo said.

If you have to run and get something, make sure that someone is watching the grill.

Piringer said anytime you’re cooking, whether it’s on a grill outside or on a cooktop inside, it’s important to watch it.

“Never leave the grill unattended. Unattended cooking is the number one cause of fire throughout the year.”

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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