Grilling Safety Tips: Stay Safe at Home This Summer
From Father’s Day, to the Fourth of July, to Labor Day, the summer months are filled with days perfect for hosting a cookout with family and friends. In the midst of all this excitement, it could be easy to overlook basic grill safety. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, the peak month for grill fires is July, with June and August close behind. As we roll into summer barbecue season, make sure you are following these top grilling safety tips to keep your cookout free from unexpected flare-ups!
1. Check the space above your grill. While porches, decks, and patios are common places for operating your grill, their proximity to your house can pose a risk. Make sure there are no overhanging branches, roof eaves, decking, or other flammable items interfering with the area above your gas or charcoal grill. With an average of 8,900 home fires started by grills each year, ensuring all BBQ grills are located a safe distance away from the home is a major component of summer grilling safety.
2. Keep children and pets at least three feet away at all times. Part of the fun of summertime cookouts is being able to enjoy them with the whole family – including children and pets. To keep your cookouts accident- and injury-free, it’s important to make sure children are well-versed in basic grilling safety as well. Kids and pets should stay at least three feet away from the grill at all times. This wide berth helps prevent accidental contact or interference of people or objects with the grill.
Make fire safety a priority. Grill fires are unfortunate, and yet most are preventable with proper maintenance and day-of caution. Keep up with cleaning and inspection, and when it comes time to light your grill, move it a safe distance away from your house. Have a fire extinguisher within reach for emergencies.
— Emily Long, health and safety expert with SafeWise
BONUS TIP! To be extra prepared with fire safety at home, teach your child(ren) how and when to properly operate a fire extinguisher – which should always be close-by when grilling!
3. Open the lid of your gas grill prior to lighting it. This is a crucial step to remember when keeping BBQ safety at the front-of-mind during your cookout. Gas can build up beneath the lid of your grill, which can lead to an explosion if a flame is introduced. Opening the lid of your grill before lighting allows the excess gas to escape and keeps the fire and flames at a controllable level.
4. Before use, check the gas tank hose for potential leaks. Seasonal wear and tear can take a toll on gas tank hoses, possibly leading to leaks. You may be able to smell propane, but you can’t see it. Before using your grill for the first time, perform a basic “soapy water test” to make sure your gas tank hose is leak-free. Mix together a solution of soap and water, then apply it over the entire hose. If there is a leak, you will see bubbles at the source of it. Contact a professional to service the grill and repair the leak before cooking anything.
5. For charcoal grills, make sure coals are completely cooled, then discard in a metal container. Nothing says “summer BBQ” quite like the classic taste of a charcoal-grilled burger or hot dog. If you’re including a charcoal grill in your summertime BBQ, it’s important to remember two key steps for cleanup: first, let the coals cool down completely – this can take up to 48 hours. Spraying them with a hose after several hours of cooling can help with the process. Second, dispose of the cooled-down coals in a metal container. Metal is a non-combustible, so this adds an additional layer of fire prevention.
6. Always use long-handled grilling utensils. Thermal burns are no joke! According to the NFPA’s latest report on home grill fires: 16,600 patients made trips to the ER in 2014 due to grill-related injuries, and more than half of them involved thermal burns. A simple way to practice grill safety and minimize the likelihood of obtaining burns is to use cooking utensils with long handles – the kind designed for cooking on a grill!
BONUS TIP! Clean your grill with long-handled tools after every use, too. This not only helps to prevent burns, but also fires. Improperly or insufficiently cleaned grills are the leading cause of grill-related fires.