Health Advocate Blog

Grilling Safety 101: Tips for Safe Sizzling

For some, there’s nothing better than the smell of a barbecue on a warm summer night. Whether it’s a Memorial Day or Fourth of July barbecue, tailgating at a baseball game, or just cooking Sunday night dinner for friends and family, grilling is a big part of the summer season. But each year an average of 8,800 house fires are caused by grilling. According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2012, 16,900 patients went to the emergency room because of injuries involving a grill.

There are a lot of safety precautions that can be overlooked when it comes to grilling. Here are some essential tips, courtesy of the National Fire Protection Association, for making sure you’re practicing safe grilling this season.

Safety tips

  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
  • Keep any lighter fluid out of reach of children
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill. (Note: Wire bristle grill cleaning brushes can pose a food safety hazard as they can become detached from the brush and ingested after prepping your grill. It’s recommended to avoid wire bristle brushes and opt out for scouring pads instead.)
  • Never leave your grill unattended.

Grill location

  • Always keep your grill outdoors and at a safe distance from your house or deck, and away from any awnings, railings, or overhanging branches.
  • If you have a gas grill, make sure that the area in the back, where the grill vents, is clear and away from your house. Even with the grill lid closed, there can be an immense amount of heat build-up that can warp siding, damage glass and even cause a fire.

Tips for propane grills

Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose—a propane leak will release bubbles. If you believe your grill has a gas leak, detected by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill and have it serviced by a professional before using it again.

To properly turn on your gas grill:

  • Open the lid before turning on the grill
  • Turn the propane tank open
  • Turn on the knobs of the grill burner
  • Push the ignition button (if you have one)
  • If the button does not ignite, turn the gas tank closed and wait at least 5 minutes to let the gas dissipate in the air before trying to light your grill using a long lighter or long match.

If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from your grill and call the fire department!

Tips for charcoal grills

There are several ways to get charcoal grills ready to use. Charcoal chimneys allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel. If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid and never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire. Always remember to let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container. Just because there is no longer smoke or fire does not necessarily mean that the charcoal is cool and safe to dispose of.

Following these important safety measures can help protect you, your family and your house from becoming one of the thousands involved in a grill-related incident.

For Health Advocate members

If you have questions about other summer safety-related topics and are a Health Advocate member, call us today. We’ll help you get the most out of your summer!