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Grilling: Sailors, Friends, Family… Be Aware

Brisket, barbecue chicken, hickory-smoked salmon… whatever you crave on the grill, chances are Memorial Day weekend is when you (if not already) will make a go at creating it (for some of you with varying success.) Regardless of your talent when wearing “the grill master” chef hat, there will be some of you who will do something worse than burn a perfect rack of ribs. You will burn yourself.

David Nelson, of the Naval Safety Center, is back with a message you hear every year… but we care enough to share with you. Please do the same for those you care about.


Every time I’m around a barbecue grill, I’m reminded why I’m not a vegetarian. But reading mishap reports has given me a new respect for the downside of flame, propane and charcoal starter. Too many Sailors use too much starter, or the wrong kind, or ignore gas leaks, and then have their faces in the middle of the resulting fireball. The result: a ruined cookout and painful injuries. During the past five years, commands have reported 49 burn-related mishaps involving grills. Victims spent a total of 71 days in hospitals, lost 384 work days and spent 470 days on light duty.

Some pointers:

  • Read the grill manufacturer’s instructions. They are your best source of precautions and troubleshooting.
  • Culinary Specialist Seaman Shaun Lucas and Culinary Specialist Seaman Jaime Pablo prepare for lunch at the galley by grilling T-bone steaks.
  • Keep your grill at least 10 feet away from siding, decks and railings. Keep it out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • High-risk times are when you first use a grill that has been left idle or just after you refill and reattach the LP gas container.
  • Don’t add starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited.

And never use gasoline to get the fire going. There’s a reason why the Friday Funnies refers to it as “The Idiot’s Friend.”

For more information, check out the Naval Safety Center’s 2012 Summer Safety Resources.

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