Grill Safety 101

August 18, 2022

When you think of Summer, what is one of the first things that come to mind? Trips down the shore, hot weather, not school …. And barbeques! Summertime is perfect for grilling hamburgers, hot dogs and veggies. While summer BBQ’s are a great excuse for friends and family to get together, it is important to understand that is does come with one large risk: house fires.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), grills are the cause of more than 10,000 house fires each year, on average — resulting in $149 million in property damage.

To help you stay safe during your next family or friend cookout, we’ve put together a list of ways to keep you, your grill and most importantly your home, safe.

GRILL 101:

Where should I place my grill?

Keep it outside on a flat, level service, away from your home, do not place it underneath eaves and awnings and make sure it is located in a well ventilated space.

Using your grill on an incline could cause it to roll or tip over. Even a large open space, like a garage, is an unsafe location to cook. In addition to the fire risk, poorly ventilated areas could result in carbon monoxide poisoning. Do not place a grill on a wooden deck or balcony since wood is combustible and can catch fire easily. And after you light your grill, don’t attempt to move it to another location. Moving a lit grill risks burning yourself or others. The movement could also dislodge a burner tube or other important component.

Most importantly – watch your grill very carefully. Never leave your grill unattended. And be sure to keep kids and pets a safe distance away at all times.

Gas Grill Safety: What to Know about Propane Grills And Natural Gas Grills

Before you go to use your grill, check for leaks or rust. At the start of the season, conduct a thorough inspection to ensure there are no gas leaks or rust buildup on the burners and propane tank. Most rust can be cleaned but if any of these parts are heavily rusted, get them replaced. To check for leaks, apply a soapy water solution to your gas tank and hose connections. If you see bubbles rising from any connection points or smell gas, turn the grill off and get it serviced before using.

Cooking Tips:

When lighting your gas grill, make sure the lid is open. Keeping the lid closed can allow gas to build up inside the grill, which can lead to a flash burn.
When lighting your burners, don’t lean over the grill. If you can’t get a burner to light, turn off the grill and wait at least five minutes. Then try again.
After you’ve finished cooking, remember to turn off the propane at both points—the grill and the tank shutoff. This is especially important for direct-line natural gas grills, which have an endless supply of fuel. If you ever smell gas after the grill has been turned off, call your local fire department.

Charcoal Grill Safety

Do not use too much lighter fluid. Make sure your fluid is made especially for starting grills – never use gasoline or other flammable liquids. Let the charcoal soak up the fluid before lighting. And once you’ve lit your charcoal, do not add more to the fire and be sure to cap your lighter fluid when you’re done.

Charcoal grills need oxygen to burn. So keep your vents open when cooking, and when you are done, you can close them to extinguish the flame. After you have closed the lid, give your grill enough time to cool down completely before covering it. Hot coals and ash can become a major fire hazard if thrown away too soon. Before cleaning out your ashes and charcoal, let it cool for 48 hours. If you need to clean out your grill sooner than that, wrap the ashes in aluminum foil and soak them with water. You can then dispose of them in a non-combustible container.

Grill Storage And Maintenance

If your grill has a drip pan or tray, it is important to regularly clean out the fat, grease and oil that it collects. After you are done cooking, brush off your grill grates to help prevent rust buildup. While most grills are designed to be stored outdoors all year long, it is still important to use a weatherproof cover to keep dirt and moisture out during the wet and snowy weather. And at the end of grill season, it is really important to fully disconnect the propane tank. Remember that even if you store your grill inside your garage or a shed, you should never store your propane indoors.

Grill Fire Emergency Guide:

Never use water. Grill fires are essentially the same as a grease fire in your kitchen. Oil and water do not mix and will cause an explosion of burning grease. Instead use a fire extinguisher. But if you do not have one on hand, the best option is to smother the flame and cut off the supply of oxygen. You can do this by closing the lid and grill vents. Spreading baking soda on the flame can also help put it out.

Call 911. If you can’t put out the fire, call for help immediately. House fires spread quickly, so the faster you get professional help, the less damage it will do.

After the fire is out and any injuries have been treated, evaluate the damage to your property. Document the damage by taking photos and videos and consult your home inventory for any lost property. Contact your insurance agent to figure out your next course of actions, like filing an insurance claim.