Safety Tips for Outdoor Barbecues

If there was an official smell of summer, it would be the American grill. Whether you fancy charcoal, propane, or wood burning grills, firing up the ole’ barbecue is one of our favorite pastimes. So much so that it is estimate seven out of every ten adults own a grill or smoker.[1]

But with all the hungry excitement of wanting to put those perfect grill marks on your next ribeye or tofu steak, it is important to take the proper safety precautions. Between the years 2014 and 2018, an average of 19,700 patients went to the emergency room because of injuries involving grills[2] and fire departments visited 8,900 homes from grill fires. 

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make sure the sizzle of summer stays safe including these 14 tips:

1. Outside Only – All grilling and smoking should be conducted outside. This includes not using your barbecue inside a garage, porch, or lanai.

2. Distance from Buildings – Grilling outside is the first step. Next, make sure your grill is a safe distance away from any buildings or other structures.

3. Dress for the Occasion – We’re not talking flamingo shirts and board shorts. Instead, wear heat-resistant gloves and an apron to protect your clothing and skin.

4. Keep It Clean – Over time, grease, oil, and other flammable materials can build up over time and increase the risk of unexpected flare-ups.

5. Keep Loved Ones Safe – Children and pets may not know the hazards grills pose and may unwittingly injure themselves out of curiosity.

6. Stay Close – Never leave a grill unattended as flare-ups, injuries, and accidents can happen in the blink of an eye.

7. Use Less Lighter Fluid – Whenever possible, avoid the use of lighter fluid by spreading coals and wood evenly or using a chimney starter to start your grill.

8. Check for Leaks – If you are using a gas grill, check to make sure all connections are secure, and for a thorough check, use soap and water to look for bubbles indicating potential leaks.

9. Cook Thoroughly – It’s not always the grill that can be hazardous, but undercooked meat-carrying bacteria that could cause physical harm and sickness.

10. Lid Open – When firing up the grill, leave the lid open so gas and fumes don’t build up before pressing the ignition button or lighting a match.

11. Stabilize the Grill – Make sure your grill or smoker is standing level and stable before lighting to avoid accidentally tipping it over.

12. Properly Shut Down – Disconnect all sources of fuel and make sure coal and wood have been completely cooled down before walking away.

13. Have a Plan – Before you light your grill, have a plan of what you would do if a fire spreads, or someone were to become injured. 

14. Fire Extinguishers – Keep a fire extinguishing at the ready to extinguish any fires which grow out of control.

[1] Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (HPBA)

[2] Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, queried in April 2016


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