12 grilling safety tips
By Intermountain Healthcare
Jun 13, 2019
Updated Nov 17, 2023
5 min read
Outdoor grilling is an essential part of summer. Just walk around your neighborhood on any summer evening and you can smell your neighbors grilling outside. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fires caused by outdoor grills and barbecues in the US average about 8,700 per year. Not to mention an average of 19,000 patients who go to the emergency room for burns and other grilling related incidents yearly. How can you enjoy grilling season without burning down your house or going to the emergency room? Let’s find out.
Where you put your grill is perhaps the most important way to keep your family safe while grilling. It might be tempting to grill indoors, but it can create carbon monoxide, which is invisible and harmful. Instead, place your grill at least 10 feet from your house. Never place it under overhangs or near trees, tablecloths, lawn decorations, or anything else that could potentially catch of fire. Setup your grill on a flat, level surface.
Each time you use your grill, clean it before using. You’ll want to clean away grease and other buildup that can cause flare-ups and add fuel to potential fires. Not only that, but adding new food to last week’s dirty leftovers doesn’t sound too appetizing.
It’s not uncommon for grills to develop propane leaks or similar problems. Check all gas lines, and place a little bit of soap water on potential problem spots to check for leaks. If you have a gas leak, it’s time to fix or replace your grill.
What you wear when you grill matters. Long sleeves and grilling gloves can protect your arms and hands from the heat of the fire. However, you don’t want to wear loose clothing while grilling. It can easily catch on fire. If you have long hair, wear it up and out of the way.
Anytime you’re dealing with fire, be prepared to put it out. When big fires and flare-ups happen, you’ll want to be ready. Baking soda is a good option for putting out a grease fire. You can also use a fire extinguisher. Make sure you know how to use it and that it’s in working order. If you can’t get your fire out, don’t hesitate to call 911 for help.
In most cases, you don’t need lighter fluid. However, it can be helpful in starting charcoal grills. Only use lighter fluid to start the charcoal on fire and use it sparingly. Never add lighter fluid to a grill that’s been lighted and is doing well.
You might not even think about it. You turn on the gas without opening up your grill lid. As you’re fiddling with the lighter, that propane begins to fill your grill. By the time you light your grill, you’ve created a situation where your grill will turn into a fireball once you light it. Always open up the lid so the propane can dissipate on your grill before you light it.
Most of us, at one point or another, have left their grill unattended while cooking. In most cases, it just means you’ll have burned hamburgers for dinner. But there’s also a chance that you could start a big fire or small children burn themselves because you’ve left your grill running without you. Once you start the grill, make sure you can be around to finish the cooking. And remember to keep kids and pets away from the grill. It might seem like common sense, but young kids or pets can get injured easily on a hot grill. Talk to older kids, and watch younger kids or pets while grilling so there won’t be any burns or injuries.
Grills have a lot of space for a reason. Or so it’s easy to assume. Sadly, piling a lot of greasy meats on your grill can mean a grease fire and massive flare ups. Instead, cook smaller portions of meat at a time. You’ll be less likely to start a fire, and less likely to burn pounds and pounds of meat if you have a fire you can’t control.
Most grilling involves meat. If your grill is running hot, it’s easy to burn the outside of your meat without actually reaching the right temperatures inside your meat. A meat thermometer is a good way to get around this. Simply stick it in to see if your meat has reached the right temperature. It’s easy and it means your family won’t spend the rest of the day with food poisoning.
Although most grilling involves meat, you can also grill fruits, vegetables, and even pizza. Work carefully to prevent cross contamination with raw meats and cooked foods or foods that require less heat. Designate certain areas of your grill for raw meats and for everything else.
It might seem like common sense to turn off your grill but it’s easy to forget when you’re in a rush to get dinner finished. It’s even more complicated when you’re grilling over charcoal because you can’t just flip a switch to turn it off. Create a routine every time you grill that involves shutting everything down and putting out any fires. It just takes a few extra minutes, but it can protect your family.
Grilling is a fun way to bring your family together. You can protect your family from fire, injury, and even food poisoning with a few simple steps to stay safe.