School’s out now, and one of the best parts of summer, I think, are the cookouts. Some of the best memories I have with friends and family have come from these get-togethers. A key part of our mission at Affinity Loss Prevention Services (ALPS) is to deliver seasonally relevant information to help you protect your properties. So, as I am preparing to entertain my friends and family on one of our favorite holidays of the year, Independence Day, I realized that these events can hold dangers that get overlooked due to distractions and fun. Though the information that follows may ring familiar in your ears, sharing these tips with your tenants should allow for an enjoyable summer that is burn-free, both for their loved ones and your property. And after all, if you don’t tell them, who will?


• All grills—whether propane, wood or charcoal—should only be used outdoors. Grilling in an enclosed space, even if ventilated, can cause harmful carbon monoxide buildup.

• Place grills or pits at least 10 feet away from the house or garage and a safe distance away from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic.

• Fire pits or grills should never be used on a balcony or under an overhang, nor should they be used on wood decks.

• Always keep children and pets away from the grill. A three-foot “kid-free zone” is a good rule of thumb.

• Check the hose on your gas grill for leaks before using it each year. A leak or break is the leading contributing factor to gas grill fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

• If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.

• For charcoal grills, do not add starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and do not use any other type of flammable or combustible liquid to get the fire started.

• If the fire is too low, rekindle with dry kindling and more charcoal if needed. Adding liquid fuel can cause a flash fire.

• Keep flammable items such as oven mitts and towels away from your grill, as the grilling surface may be hot enough to burn them long after you have finished cooking. This is a leading cause of structure fires from use of charcoal grills, an NFPA study concluded.

• If you need to attend to another hosting task while grilling, ask one of your cook team to help you finish your food prep. Never leave your grill without a set of watchful eyes.

• After cooking, completely close the valve on gas grills and wait for any charcoal to completely cool. Dispose of any coals or ashes in a metal container that is kept well away from the house.

• Remove any grease or fat buildup after cooking to help keep the grill safe for the next cookout.


While many of the items served for a summer get together may be cooked outside on the grill, others, like side dishes, are likely to be prepared in the kitchen simultaneously.  Some rules of thumb for managing multiple cook stations:

• Be sure you have enough assistants to help you staff all the stations, both indoor and out. Enlisting help from your guests can actually break the ice and make them feel more at home.

• Don’t leave your fryer or baked beans unattended to go check the burgers and grilled corn. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of kitchen fires, according to recent data from the NFPA.

• If you are simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, check it regularly. Using a timer can help you stay on task even if you get pulled into a conversation.

• Be patient if you are heating up oil for those awesome fresh-cut French fries. Heating oil too quickly can easily start a fire. Oils will usually smoke before catching fire, so be observant.

• Be sure your burner is the right size for the pan. Using too large an electric burner or too powerful a flame can heat items too quickly, causing boil-overs, scorching and burning.

• Keep anything flammable far away from the stove: oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, hand towels and the like. It is easy to set these down in a dangerous place when counters are crowded with ingredients.

• Remember to tuck in that light summer shirt and keep other loose-fitting clothing away from any open flame. You don’t want to have to “stop, drop and roll” in the middle of your party.

• If you have a grease fire, DO NOT put water on it. Instead, smother the flames by sliding a lid or cookie sheet over the pan and then turn off the burner. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled to avoid a secondary flare-up.

• If something in the oven or microwave catches fire, turn off the appliance and keep the door closed until the flames are extinguished.

• If you are at all uncomfortable fighting a small fire, just get out of the house! Close the door behind you to help contain the fire and call 9-1-1 from outside.

• When you are done cooking and before you shift gears to relaxing with guests, be sure that all flames are extinguished and burners and ovens are off.


It may require more than one kind of KitchenAid to pull off a successful barbecue. The following “tools” should be on hand to keep fires to their designated role—cooking delicious food!

Oven mitts: A quality pair of oven mitts and other hot pads will be needed to handle hot dishes coming out of the oven. Towels usually don’t offer sufficient protection to prevent burns, and corners and fringe can easily catch fire.

Pan lids: If there is a grease fire or other type of fire on your stovetop, a lid or cookie sheet can help smother it quickly and safely.

An evacuation plan: Smoke inhalation can overwhelm a child or adult in less than two minutes. Tenants can find guidance on developing an evacuation plan on the NFPA website:

Items you can provide to help manage fires:

StoveTop FireStop: These products easily install by magnet to the underside of the range hood and contain a fire suppressant that can act automatically. When a fire ignites the wick, the can deploys a fire suppressant similar to the powder in fire extinguishers over the burners below. This powder can put out a stove-top fire almost instantaneously. Installing these in your rentals may help act as an added layer of protection should a tenant get distracted while cooking. Additional details and discount codes can be found in the Products section of the ALPS website:

Fire extinguishers: A fire extinguisher is a must-have for any home, but especially near the kitchen. An ABC Dry Chemical fire extinguisher can put out various types of fires and won’t accelerate grease fires.

Smoke detectors: Make sure these are placed far enough away from the stove to prevent false alarms. Dual-sensor alarms can help detect slow-building fires that produce a lot of smoke and sudden combustible fires with tall flames like a grease fire. Change the batteries at least once a year. Most detectors will need to be replaced every 10 years, as they are constantly filtering air in the home.

Want More Help Protecting Your Properties from Avoidable Losses?

Please come visit us on the ALPS website! Affinity Loss Prevention Services (ALPS) has a new website ( full of resources created just for investors, property managers and renters. Though we still love sharing our tips through trusted industry publications and social media, we built our site to be a space where we can spend quality time talking about ways to protect your property and give you a toolbox of products and resources to get the job done. Come check out the latest articles, checklists, product reviews and discounts, and participate by joining our newsletter, property manager list or share your loss prevention stories with us. Here’s to a safe and successful summer!

  • BreAnn Stephenson

    BreAnn Stephenson is assistant vice president of Affinity Loss Prevention Services. Contact her at

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