July is the peak month for grilling accidents.

EFFINGHAM — A backyard barbecue can be considered one of the sights and smells of summer, and safety must remain a top priority when using charcoal and propane grills. More than 16,000 people go to an emergency room each year because of a grilling incident, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). About half of those injuries are burns.

Deb Murbarger, RN, HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital’s emergency department manager, says most burns are at a first-degree level, which means it affects the outer layer of skin and can be treated at home with cool (not ice cold) water, aloe, and over-the-counter ibuprofen or aspirin.

“For those who experience more serious second-and third-degree burns, it affects the outer layer of skin as well as the underlying tissue, causing swelling, blistering and blackened skin. People experiencing this level of burn should seek medical attention,” said Murbarger.

St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital and the CPSC recommend these 10 grilling safety tips:

  • Clean your grill often. A buildup of grease and fat can cause a fire.
  • Do not use a wire bristle brush to clean. Bristles may stick to the grilling surface and get into food which may cause a choking hazard.
  • Keep kids and pets away from the grill and keep the grill itself at least 10 feet away from buildings and trees.
  • Inspect a propane grill’s hose for cracking, holes, and leaks each time before lighting the grill.
  • Open the grill lid before lighting.
  • Never leave a grill unattended.
  • Use only charcoal starter fluid for a charcoal grill – never gasoline.
  • Have a fire extinguisher nearby in case of a fire and have baking soda on hand to control a grease fire.
  • Put a grill pad under your grill to stabilize the base and catch grease or food particles that drop.
  • Do not get shirt sleeves, apron strings, and long hair too close to the grill when it’s lit.

If a burn happens and you are unsure what type of burn it is, Murbarger says you should treat it as a major burn and seek medical care right away.

HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital’s emergency department, 503 N. Maple St. in Effingham, is open 24/7 to provide care when needed.

For more helpful information about food and grilling safety, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website. Additional information about burns can be found at the National Institute of Health website


About Hospital Sisters Health System
Hospital Sisters Health System’s (HSHS) mission is to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high-quality Franciscan health care ministry. HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care to our patients and is dedicated to serving all people, especially the most vulnerable, at each of our physician practices and 15 local hospitals in two states – Illinois (Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Greenville, Highland, Litchfield, O’Fallon, Shelbyville, and Springfield) and Wisconsin (Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Oconto Falls, Sheboygan and two in Green Bay). HSHS is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, and Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the founding institute. For more information about HSHS, visit www.hshs.org. For more information about Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, visit hshs.org.