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The Risks of Grilling

It’s summer – so how likely is your cookout going to end in the ER?

Summertime, and the grilling is easy, for most people, that is; for others, the statistics tell a more painful story.

Number of fatal accidents
Happily, grilling was not a fatal activity for anyone in 2006 or the previous two years, at least according to emergency room data.

Number of nonfatal accidents
In 2006, an estimated 3,448 people were treated in the ER for accidents involving a charcoal or wood-burning grill or stove. This was up from 3,086 in 2005. The numbers are based on a national probability sample of hospitals in the U.S. and its territories.

Chance of a nonfatal accident in 2006
Overall: 1 in 86,830; Male: 1 in 66,191; Female: 1 in 124,546

This accords with the popular view that the outdoor grill is a predominantly male domain; however, those most at risk from injury are children aged 9 and under – and this age group accounts for the greatest number of injuries each year, raising the chances of injury in 2006 to 1 in 41,239 (1 in 33,509 for boys, 1 in 54,360 for girls).

Men in their 20s were the next most accident-prone group in 2006 with odds of 1 in 46,276 of sustaining an injury from a grill. In 2005, the pattern was reversed with men in this age group surpassing children in injuries.

Typical injuries
Burns: 70%
Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning: 17%
Lacerations: 5%

Abnormal injuries
— Using outdoor grills inside the house either for cooking or heating sent two 17-year olds to the ER with anoxia from smoke inhalation.
— In 2004, a 71-year old man bent over his new grill, “got excited,” developed palpitations, and lost consciousness.

It’s just not your lucky day
— In 2005, a lump of charcoal blew into the eye of a 24-year old man, burning his eyelid.

Fire risks and safety tips
See the National Fire Protection Association’s fact sheet.

Odd grilling tip
You can grill fruit – the harder the fruit the better.




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