Grilling is a summer staple, be it a backyard barbecue, firing up food at baseball tailgater or cooking over an open flame while camping. But as fun as gathering with family and friends to feast on some warm-weather fare can be, it can all go up in smoke if grill safety isn’t made priority number one.
Before you turn up the heat
Complete this checklist to keep you, your guests, and your space safe with summer cooking.
- Use and store your grill more than 10 feet away from your home or other structures, such as garages, sheds, and tents.
- Whether gas or charcoal, make sure your grill is on a level surface before starting.
- Maintain your grill, checking hoses and connections for gas leaks by creating a water and dish soap mixture. Coat the leads with the soapy solution, and with the grill lid open, turn on the gas. If bubbles form then repair or replace.
- When starting your grill, always do so with the lid open.
- Skip lighter fluid, and start using a charcoal or chimney starter for non-propane grills.
- If lighter fluid is a must, soak charcoal in the lighter fluid and let sit for a few minutes before igniting. If more fluid is needed once lit, spray the fluid in fast, short bursts directly onto the coals.
- When lighting coals, use a long match or a long-neck fire starter, or light the end of a rolled newspaper.
- Invest in a working fire extinguisher to keep near your grill at all times–and, most importantly, know how to use it. If a fire breaks out, tend to it immediately while another person calls for emergency services.
- Not every fire requires an extinguisher. Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it with your grilling tools should food catch fire.
- If your fire source is grease, DO NOT attempt to extinguish it with water. Remove the oxygen source to the flames by closing the vent on a charcoal lid and covering the grill, or covering the flames from a gas grill with a pot or pan. Or put out the fire using an extinguisher. If an extinguisher isn’t handy, dump large amounts of baking soda on the flames instead.
- Clean your grill regularly, making sure grates and open flame sources are clean of debris, grease, and food droppings.
- While grilling outdoors should go without saying, beware of roof, tent, and tree overhangs that could easily ignite without warning.
- Keep outdoor and party decorations clear of the grilling area.
- Just as you wouldn’t leave an open flame unattended in your home, never do so with your grill or campfire either. Staying nearby will allow you to react more quickly and keep the fire from leading to potentially life-threatening damage.
- When feeding lots of people, don’t try to grill all your food at once. Overloading the grill can increase the amount of food and grease drippings, which can cause a fire to break out.
- Keep animals and children away from the grill while cooking. Many pets and kids are at a height where they can easily get burned from the grill’s exterior.
- When a grill is not in use, store the propane outside–not in your home, garage, or other structure.
- Always let the coals of a grill fire or campfire completely cool before leaving unattended. If not, then dispose of them in a designated receptacle. For campfires, pour a bucket of water over warm flames before calling it a night.