There’s no better way to prepare some delicious food than outside on a grill. Food just tastes…better. Whether you are grilling out to simply take advantage of great weather, or you are hosting an event for some friends, neighbors or family, be sure to exercise caution. Some people prefer gas grills; others are diehard charcoal fans—but one thing to keep in mind is that without plenty could go wrong with an open flame.
Each year, there are nearly 9,000 grilling-related fires throughout the U.S. Of these, 82 percent are caused using gas grills. It’s reported that there is an average of 140 injures per year and nearly $100 million lost in property damages throughout the country.
Want to get the most from your grilling experience? Try these on for size:
General Safety Tips
- Allow a 3-foot grilling area. You’ll need some space that’s away from anything that could potentially catch on fire. Many backyards and patios are filled with landscaping—like pine straw, wood chips and even over-hanging trees. A clear, three-foot grilling area, away from these will make the most of a pleasant grilling experience.
- Never leave your grill unattended when it’s in use. You’ll find that grilling requires a lot of back and forth to get supplies and food from inside. As tempting as it is to leave the grill for a few quick minutes, it’s best to either plan ahead accordingly, or have someone man the grill while you step away. One second is all it takes for something to potentially happen.
- Keep children and pets away from the grill. A grill stays hot long after you are done using it—so it’s essential to keep all kids and pets away from it while it’s in use and a couple of hours afterwards too.
- Never use an outdoor grill inside. Just don’t do it—it’s not worth the risk! It’s just asking for trouble.
- Remove grease build-up from the grilling rack and drip tray. Few things catch fire as quickly and easily as fat and oil. Every time you grill some chicken, steak, etc., a layer of grease and fat is building up both on the grilling rack and on the dripping tray, located down at the bottom.
Grilling with charcoal can be a lot of fun. The smoke from the charcoal seems to be it’s own pleasurable reward when taking the first few bites of your grilled meal. But the very thing that gives off such a great flavor can literally make anything it touches go up in flames. Embers fly and are easy to catch on nearby trees, pine straw, the deck, or even your house.
- Avoid using lighter fluid to help light your charcoal. Plenty of places sell fluid, so it’s easy to get some, but what really is safest (and works best) is actually a chimney charcoal starter. When using a chimney charcoal starter, the charcoal is able to light and heat up evenly before you begin cooking. Within 15 minutes, you’ll be ready to scatter the lit up coals and throw the food on the grill.
- Use grilling mitts and proper grilling utensils. With charcoal grills in particular, you have to scatter the hot charcoal once it’s ready. Especially in using a chimney charcoal starter, you’ll have to dump the charcoal into the bottom of the grill—meaning embers will be able to potentially fly. Also, your hand and arm will be exposed near the heat. Using a grilling mitt and good grilling tools will help you keep control of the charcoal and reduce the likelihood of getting your skin burned.
- Let the coals die down completely before trying to discard them. It takes a while for the coals to cool off; and more than likely, they’ll turn into a powdered ash that you can then quickly scoop away.
Gas Grill Safety
- Always remember to turn off the gas when you are done. It’s dangerous to have a gas line running continuously; it’s a certain fire hazard.
- To look for gas leaks, use soap. If something doesn’t seem right with your gas grill, put soap on the closed gas tank. Bubbles will form if gas is leaking.
Looking for more home safety tips? Here are other ways to protect your home and family.