Grilling can be one of America's favorite pastimes, but it can also be dangerous if you don't take proper precautions. The Grilling 101 Series continues with "Grilling 101: How to Practice Grill Safety." Many people are injured each year using grills because they forget some basic safety rules when cooking on their gas grill.  Follow these simple steps and practice safe grilling!

Avoid becoming a statistic by keeping your family safe with this most critical step - don't ever leave your grill unattended while in use!

Grilling 101: How to Practice Grill Safety

Every year, there are an estimated 8,900 grill fires in the U.S., leading to an average of $110 million in property damage per fire. Out of those fires, 5,100 are contained outside, while 3,900 involve a house or structure caught on fire. In addition, these grill fires and accidents have led to about 160 injuries and ten fatalities every year. Avoid becoming a statistic by keeping your family safe with this most critical step - don't ever leave your grill unattended while in use! Beyond this number-one safety rule for grilling, following these tips will keep any injury or blaze from ruining your summer fun.

How to Practice Grill Safety in 7 Steps

There is something magical about cooking food over an open flame, and the routineness of outdoor grilling makes us complacent when practicing grilling safety. Setting up simple guidelines for using your outdoor kitchen can mitigate much of the risk ahead of time. Practice the following tips and keep your family safe this summer!

1. Never leave your grill unattended.

Maintain a safe boundary around your grill to keep pets and kids from venturing too close or bumping the appliance. Never leave a hot grill unattended or allow kids and pets to play nearby. When you are done cooking and want to turn off the gas, don’t touch or move the grill until it has cooled down.

2. Maintain a safe distance from structures

Homeowners should take care to place their grill in a safe location at an appropriate distance from structures and overhangs. While charcoal and gas grills are designed for outdoor use only, according to the NFPA, more than 50% of grill-related fires happen in courtyards, terraces, patios, or balconies. Keep a minimum safe distance of at least 3 feet from wooden structures, and pay attention to overhanging tree branches when you set up your grill.

Grilling 101: How to Practice Grill Safety

3. Stabilize your grill

Place your grill on a solid, level surface. Custom grill islands should always be installed and leveled, and freestanding grills need stabilization to keep from rolling or tipping. Use a grill pad or splatter mat for added safety and staining to protect your deck or flooring.

4. Inspect for gas leaks

Keep the fuel supply turned off when not used, whether a propane tank or natural gas line. When preparing for an outdoor cookout, open the fuel line and visually inspect the hoses and connectors every time.

Before your first barbecue of the season, check the gas hose for leaks by applying a light soap and water solution to the hoses and connectors. Turn on the gas supply. The solution will bubble if there is a gas or propane leak, and you should replace those parts immediately before grilling. Other signs of a possible natural gas or propane leak include the smell of gas near the barbecue or a flame that won't light.

5. Keep your grill clean

Not only is keeping your grill clean a vital safety step, but it is also the essential maintenance practice to keep your grill lasting for years to come.

Routinely wipe down the exterior surfaces with soapy water to remove dust, ash, and debris. Use a wire brush to clean the grill grates before and after every use. Remove grease or fat build-up from both the grill and the tray below the grill. If you are using a charcoal grill, allow the coals to completely cool off before disposing them in a metal container.

6. Allow the gas to dissipate after misfires

If you use a gas grill and the flame goes out, turn the grill and the gas off, then wait at least five minutes to re-light it. When lighting the grill, if it doesn't light immediately, turn off the gas and wait for it to dissipate before trying again. The build-up of gas in the grill could cause a dangerous flare-up or explosion when lit.

7. Always be ready to put out the fire

Fires are always a possibility when grilling outdoors, so it is vital to have appropriate tools on hand to keep your home safe. Keep baking soda on hand to control a grease fire and a fire extinguisher nearby for other fires. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher, plan on purchasing one since every home should have one. You can also keep a bucket of sand next to the grill if you don't have an extinguisher, and remember, never use water to put out grease fires.

Grilling 101: How to Practice Grill Safety

Grilling 101 Continues On

Grilling is a great way to enjoy the summer, and these easy-to-follow tips will help you and your family experience a safe barbecuing season. None of these tips are complicated, but your home won't turn into a causality due to unsafe conditions with a bit of prudence and standard methodology.

The Grilling 101 Series will continue next time with a look at the basics of food safety and how to keep your ingredients fresh and healthy up until grill time.

For more information on having a successful season of grilling, check out our blog on "7 Things You Need to Know Before Grilling."

July 26, 2021 — Jason Klein