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CPSC Urges Consumers: Exercise Caution When Using Gas Grills

Release Date: May 23, 1996

As barbecue season begins, the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warns consumers to exercise caution when using gas grills. By following simple safety guidelines, consumers can reduce their chances of being injured or killed in unintentional fires or explosions from gas grills.

LP (liquid petroleum) gas or propane that is used in gas grills is highly flammable. Each year, about 40 people are injured in LP fires and explosions associated with gas grills. Many of these fires and explosions occur when consumers first use a grill that has been left idle for a period of time or just after refilling and reattaching the grill's gas container.

To reduce the risk of fire or explosion, consumers should routinely perform the following safety checks:

-- Check the tubes that lead into the burner for any blockage from insects, spiders, or food grease. Use a pipe cleaner or wire to clear blockage and push it through to the main part of the burner.

-- Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing.

-- Make sure gas hoses are as far away from the hot surface as possible, including areas where grease could drip on them. If you can't move the hoses, install a heat shield to protect them.

-- Replace scratched or nicked connectors, which can eventually leak gas.

-- Check for gas leaks if you smell gas or when you reconnect the grill to the LP-gas container. If you detect a leak, immediately turn off the gas and don't attempt to light the grill until the leak is fixed.

-- Keep lighted cigarettes, matches, or open flames away from a leaking grill.

-- Never use a grill indoors. Use the grill at least 10 feet away from your house or any building. Do not use the grill in a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or under a surface that can catch fire.

-- Do not attempt to repair the tank valve or the appliance yourself. See a LP gas dealer or a qualified appliance repair person.

-- Always follow the manufacturer's instructions that accompany the grill.

Consumers should use caution when storing LP gas containers. Always keep containers upright. Never store a spare gas container under or near the grill or indoors. Never store or use flammable liquids, like gasoline, near the grill.

To avoid accidents while transporting LP gas containers, consumers should transport the container in a secure, upright position. Never keep a filled container in a hot car or car trunk. Heat will cause the gas pressure to increase, which may open the relief valve and allow gas to escape.

Consumers should use extreme caution and always follow manufacturer's instructions when connecting or disconnecting LP gas containers.

In 1995, CPSC requested that the voluntary standard for gas grills be revised to eliminate leak hazards. In response to this request, three additional safety features were required: a device to limit the flow of gas in the event of hose rupture; a mechanism to shut-off the grill; and a feature to prevent the flow of gas if the connection between the tank and the grill is not leak proof. The voluntary standard requires these safety features on grills manufactured after October 1, 1995. Consumers should consider purchasing grills that have these safety features.

For more information on gas grill safety, consumers should send a postcard with their name and address to "Gas Grills Fact Sheet (#467)," CPSC, Washington, D.C. 20017.

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About the U.S. CPSC
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product-related incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of injuries associated with consumer products over the past 50 years. 

Federal law prohibits any person from selling products subject to a Commission ordered recall or a voluntary recall undertaken in consultation with the CPSC.

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