How to Prevent Gas Grill Explosions
Grilling accidents involving fires and explosions are tragically common in the US. Roughly 76% of American households own propane gas grills, and according to the National Fire Protection Association, grilling accidents accounted for at least 16,900 emergency room visits for severe burn injuries and tens of millions of dollars in property damage in 2012 alone. The US Fire Administration reports that propane grill fires result in about 10 fatalities every year. As more people buy grills and switch from charcoal to gas-powered cooking devices, these numbers have tended to increase.
What Causes Gas Grill Explosions?
The two most common causes for gas grill fires and explosions are termed “venting” and “odor fade” but there are other issues as well. Venting refers to a propane tank or canister releasing some gas through a safety valve as the pressure inside the tank increases. The internal tank pressure can increase in several circumstances, including when the tank is exposed to sunlight or direct heat.
This can become more dangerous when the company servicing the propane tanks overfills them with gas. If a propane tank is venting in an enclosed space, such as the cabinet underneath a grill or inside a garage, the gas can build up over time. The propane, which is heavier than air, cannot escape in a closed area, and can be ignited by any nearby spark or static charge. This can lead to an extremely hazardous situation in which a large pool of propane can suddenly catch fire and explode, creating a fireball reaching temperatures at thousands of degrees Fahrenheit.