Safe grilling tips to consider

Last updated: January 1

A grill can be a convenient way to prepare a meal, but whether you’re cooking burgers or veggies, grills can pose fire hazards. Before you plan your next backyard barbecue, consider these grilling safety tips.

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Basic grill safety tips

Barbecue grills should only be used outside, and placed far away from structures such as your house, deck railings or overhead tree limbs, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says. Kids, pets and recreational activities should be kept away from the grill, too, advises the Food Network.

Be sure to keep the grill clean by removing grease or built-up fat from the cooking grate and the drip trays under the grill, adds the NFPA. This may help prevent a fire.

Charcoal grill safety tips

If you have a charcoal grill, it's a good idea to take additional safety precautions. If you use starter fluid, only use charcoal starter fluid, the NFPA says. Once the fire is going, do not add more charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquid.

Always use your grill in an open, ventilated area to help avoid exposure to carbon monoxide from the burning coals, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says. Keep in mind that charcoal produces carbon monoxide until it is completely extinguished. If you store your grill inside, such as in a garage, make sure the coals have cooled before bringing it in, the CPSC says.

Once the coals have cooled, dispose of them in a metal container, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) advises.

Gas grill safety tips

Gas grill ownership also comes with responsibilities. Before you use a propane grill, it's important to make sure the connections are tight. Areas to check include the connections between the propane tank hose and the cylinder and regulator, as well as the connection between the hose and the burners, the NFPA says. Tighten any loose connections before using the grill.

To help make sure the hose from the propane tank isn't leaking, the NFPA suggests mixing soap and water and using a brush or spray bottle to apply it to the hose. Next, turn on the propane tank and watch the hose. You'll likely see bubbles around the hose if propane is leaking. If this happens, the NFPA says you should turn the tank off, check all connections and hire a professional to service the grill before using it.

Be sure to open the cover before lighting a gas grill, the USFA says. Although gas fuels the fire, the NFPA says you shouldn't smell gas while cooking on the grill. If you do smell gas, the grill may have a leak, so you should turn off the burners and propane tank. If you continue to smell gas after the grill is turned off, move away from the grill and call the fire department. If you do not smell gas once the grill is turned off, the NFPA says you should have the grill professionally serviced before using it again.

Regardless of what kind of grill you have, it's important to take safety precautions. Then, you can enjoy your backyard barbecues knowing that you've taken steps to help keep your home and loved ones safe in the process.