*Content was updated with current tips on June 1, 2020.
Warm weather, a group of your closest friends and family, and breathtaking sunsets make for a perfect cookout. When your guests show up to a fire in the grill, under cooked-to-perfection hot dogs and burgers, it's a welcome sight for everyone. But fire anywhere else can make your barbecue memorable for all the wrong reasons.
According to The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), seven out of every 10 adults in the U.S. have a grill or smoker, which translates to a lot of tasty meals. But it also means there’s an increased risk of home fires. From 2014-2018, fire departments went to an annual average of 8,900 home fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues per year, including 3,900 structure fires and 4,900 outside or unclassified fires.
To ensure everyone's safety while grilling, follow these general guidelines, provided by the NFPA:
General Grilling Tips
- Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
- The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
- Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
- Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and trays below the grill.
- Never leave your grill unattended.
How To Use Charcoal Grills
- There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.
- If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add any other flammable liquids to the fire.
- There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
- Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
- When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing of in a metal container.
How To Use Propane Grills
Before you use your grill:
- Check the major connection points between the gas (propane) tank hose and the regulator and cylinder, and where the hose connects to the burners. Tighten if loose.
- Check the gas (propane) tank hose for potential gas leaks. To do that:
- Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose using a brush or spray bottle.
- Turn the propane tank on. If there is a gas leak, the propane will release bubbles around the hose (big enough to see).
- If there are no bubbles, your grill is safe to use. If there are bubbles, turn off the tank and check connections, then have your grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
- If the leak doesn’t stop, call the fire department immediately.
When the grill is on:
- If you smell gas as you are cooking, turn off the gas tank and burners right away.
- If the leak stops immediately, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
- If the smell continues, move away from the grill and call the fire department immediately. Do not move the grill.
Now that your safety checklist is marked off, take a look at Country Living's impressive list of 90+ grilling recipes to try this summer, sure to impress your guests. Happy grilling season!