BBQ Grilling Safety Tips

April 25, 2013 — By

Cooking outdoors is a great way to get some fresh air, enjoy whole foods and spend time with family and friends.  Unfortunately, in our haste to throw another shrimp on the barbie, safety precautions are easily overlooked. According to the CPSC’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), in 2011 alone, an estimated 19,000 people were treated in emergency rooms due to accidents involving barbeque grills.

Before your first (or next) cookout of the year, take a few minutes to read through this quick list of safety tips.


Check for Recalls
It doesn’t matter how great of a job you do setting up your grill if there are hidden, unexpected safety defects.  Grill recalls are actually fairly common. Be sure to check that your model is not among them by adding it to Items I Own, or checking the list of recalled grills here. If your grill has been recalled, follow the instructions provided. Nearly always, you will be given a free repair or replacement.

Read the Instructions
Don’t guess, read the manufacturer’s instructions, especially if this is your first time using a particular grill. Small nuances among grills could lead to dangerous mistakes.

Place a Safe Distance from Structures
Never grill indoors. Even if you believe the area to be well-ventilated, grilling indoors is extremely dangerous. Grills should be placed outside, ten or more feet from houses, garages, sheds and other buildings.  Do not grill inside garages (even with the door open), breezeways or carports.  Check for low-hanging branches as well.

Make it Stable
Make sure the grill is on a solid, flat surface and cannot wobble or be easily tipped.

Inspect the Parts
For gas grills, check the tubes that lead into the burner for any blockage from insects, food grease or debris.  Also check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing.

Do Not Use if a Gas Leak is Possible
If you smell gas or detect a possible leak-risk, such as damaged or loose hoses, immediately turn off the gas and do not attempt to light the grill until it is fixed. Keep open flames away from the grill.

Prepare for Fire
Keep a fire extinguisher nearby and remember that grill fires are often grease fires; do not spray them with water.  Baking soda is also a good resource for small flame ups.

While Cooking

Wear Safe Clothing
Avoid loose clothing. Tuck in shirts and strings, including those on aprons.  Use special, flame-retardant “oven” mitts rather than regular cotton or polyester mitts and hot pads while grilling.

Use Appropriate Tools
Long handled utensils are made specifically with grilling in mind.  Use them to help you tend to your food so that your arms can stay a safe distance away from flames.

Stay Outside
It bears repeating… Never use a grill indoors.  Also, never leave the grill unattended.

Keep Children and Pets Away
Make sure another adult is in charge of the kids and pets so you can keep an eye on the fire. Grilling often comes with lots of people and excitement, so consider placing a safety gate around the grilling area as an added precaution.

Do Not Add Fuel
Once the flame is going, do not add liquid or gel fuel to the grill. Even smoldering woodchips or coal can cause fuel streams to ignite or explode.

In Case of Unintended Fire

Small Fires
Clear the area. Have someone ready to dial 911. Use a fire extinguisher, baking soda or a bucket of sand to smother the flames.

Larger Fires
Clear the area and dial 911.

Clothing Fires
Stop – Drop – Roll is still the best advice.  Do not wave arms or run. Smother flames with a coat or blanket if possible.  Do not try to take off burning clothing while it is still on fire. Also do not try to remove scorched clothing from a burn victim. Seek medical attention immediately.

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