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Grilling in the Gazebo & Backyard Grill Safety Tips

Warmer weather means more time spent outdoors and with three in five households having gas grills, it can also mean an increased risk of fires. Each year, thousands of home fires are caused by grill use and almost half of injuries involving grills are due to thermal burns. While there are many people that choose to use the grill year round, the peak months for grill fires are July, May, June, and August. There are some general guidelines that can be followed to keep your family safe while using the grill.

General Grill Safety Tips

All types of grills, whether charcoal or propane, should only be used outdoors. It is also important to place the grill in an area not too close to the home or other structures such as sheds, a gazebo, trees, decks, railings, or under eaves. The grill should also be placed on a stable surface where it will not be at risk of tipping over. A concrete or brick patio would be a good place. Maintaining your grill is also important for safety. Always read the owner’s manual before using the grill for the first time. Grills should be kept clean and fat and grease buildups should regularly be removed as they can increase the risk of a grill fire. Keep pets and children away from the grill and never leave your grill unattended when it is turned on. There are some additional safety tips that can be followed depending on whether you are using a propane or charcoal grill.

Charcoal Grill Safety Tips

When charcoal is purchased for grilling, it should be placed away from heat sources and out of the reach of children. There are a few ways to prepare charcoal for use including charcoal chimney starters and charcoal starter fluid. When using charcoal starter fluid, it is important to never add it to an already burning fire. Another option is to use an electric charcoal starter as they do not use fire. When using an electric starter, be sure you are using an extension cord that is safe for outdoor use. When you are done using a charcoal grill, you will need to let the coals cool completely and only then should they be disposed of. It is recommended that used coals be placed in a metal container for disposal.

Propane Grill Safety Tips

Propane grills offer many benefits as long as they are used correctly. Before using a propane grill, it is important to check any connection points between the propane tank hose, and the cylinder and regulator as well as where the hose connects to the burners. The propane tank hose should also be checked for potential leaks. To check for leaks apply a soapy water solution to the hose using a spray bottle or brush and then turn on the tank. If there is a leak, you will see bubbles form around the hose, where the soap has been applied. If you do not see bubbles, then the grill is safe for use. If you do see any bubbles, turn off the tank before checking all of the connections. If necessary, have a professional service the grill to be sure it is safe for use. If you have a gas leak that you cannot stop, immediately call the fire department.

Some Additional Safety Tips

  • Consider placing a splatter mat or grill pad beneath your grill. The pads are naturally heat resistant and will protect the area beneath the grill from any grease that may miss the grill pan.
  • Keeping the fire under control is important. This can be done by raising the grill that the food is on. If using coals, they should be spread out evenly. Lowering the temperature of the grill can also help with flare ups and if necessary flames can be spritzed with water.
  • Always make sure there is a fire extinguisher nearby. Everyone should have a fire extinguisher but if you do not own one, keeping something like a bucket of sand near the grill to put out fires is advised.
  • Wear clothing that does not hang over the grill when cooking as clothes or apron strings can easily catch fire.
  • Using appropriate utensils such as those with long handles will help you avoid splatters and burns when grilling.

Additional Resources

By Alan Bernau Jr

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