The smell of cooking over an open flame permeates the air from Memorial Day straight through Labor Day in neighborhoods throughout New England. When warm weather hits, homeowner and partiers alike take to their decks, patios and driveways for some well-deserved grilling, chilling and living.
Though grilling is an easy and common method to prepare a feast, any time there is an open flame there is the potential for an accident to occur. Each year, there are over 8,000 house fires caused by grills, and thousands of personal burn injuries. Before your next backyard barbecue, make sure you’re following proper safety recommendations to ensure you have a safe, delicious cookout.
Top 10 General Grilling Safety Tips
- Read the instruction manual for your grill, including all the safety recommendations.
- Never pour gas or other accelerates on an open flame. The accelerate can easily catch fire while pouring it, which may lead to the entire container catching fire as shown in the YouTube video BBQ Bloopers 1.
- Always make sure the grill is positioned away from the house, railings, and other flammable materials. You should never grill indoors (even in an open garage), under eaves, or low-hanging branches.
- Keep children and pets away from the grill at all times.
- Never leave the grill unattended.
- Clean the grill and trays to remove grease build up that can cause dangerous flare-ups.
- Be aware if you are wearing loose clothing or if your hair needs to be tied back. Unexpected flare-ups can easily ignite such things.
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy in case of emergency.
- Use appropriate long-handled grilling tools with head-resistant materials.
- If you’re making kabobs on wooden skewers, make sure to thoroughly soak the skewers before grilling.
Top 7 Safety Tips for Propane Grills
Propane gas grills are easy to start and control the flame, making them a popular option for many homeowners. Certain precautions must be taken when using propane to protect your home and family from dangerous accidents.
- Each year, do a thorough inspection of your grill to make sure all the connections are tight and there are no leaks.
- To check for leaks, turn the propane on, and mix detergent with water. Using a cloth or spray bottle, coat the tubing with the solution. If you see any bubbles on the hose, there is a leak and the tubing must be professionally replaced before using the grill. If the leak doesn’t stop when you turn the propane off, call for help immediately.
- If you ever smell gas while cooking, clear everyone away from the grill and call the fire department for help.
- If your grill goes out, do not just re-light it without reading the manufacturer’s instructions. If gas has been building up without you aware, you could risk serious burns as experienced by ESPN’s Hannah Storm.
- Propane tanks should have five-pronged handle. Do not use other tanks.
- Turn off the propane when you’re not using the grill.
- Store propane tanks outdoors, upright, and away from the grill.
Safety Tips for Using Charcoal Grills
Though propane is a more convenient option for most, many prefer the traditional grilling technique of using charcoal given the flavor it adds while cooking. If you’re using charcoal embers make sure to use proper starter fluid, rather than make-shift fluids. Not only are they not designed for grills, but they may also be toxic for your food.
When you’re finished grilling, make sure to dispose of the used charcoal appropriately. You must allow to organically cool before disposing in a metal container, or you can soak hot coals with water. Never dispose of coals in a paper bag
Fire it up!
Now that you know how to grill safely, get those steaks, fish and hot dogs fired up! Taking a few simple precautions to make sure you're using your grill properly can help make sure people walk away remembering that great meal you made, rather than a tragic accident.