Six Major Grilling Mistakes You Might Be Making
It happens every year. The weather gets warmer, more people use outdoor grills – and incidents of grill-related fires go up. With Memorial Day approaching and many families at home due to COVID-19, Fire Chief Goldstein is reminding residents to review these important safety tips before lighting up the grill this season.
Mistake #1: Not Keeping Your Grill Clean
If you haven’t used your grill in a while, give it a good cleaning. Did you know that grease is a major source of flare-ups? If you allow grease and fat to build upon your grill, they provide more fuel for a fire. Regularly remove grease and fat buildup from the grill grates and drip trays.
Mistake #2: Not Giving the Grill Enough Space
Keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your house. Farther away is even better. While you may want to stand in the shade while you’re grilling, having an awning, umbrella or tree branch too close to the grill can be dangerous and could easily spark a fire. Your grill—whether it’s charcoal or gas—should be at least 10 feet away from your home or garage, deck railings, and other structures.
Mistake #3: Leaving a Lit Grill Unattended
Never leave a lit grill unattended – not even for a minute. Fires double in size every minute. Plan ahead so that any food prep chores are done and you can focus on grilling. Never try to move a lit or hot grill and remember the grill will stay hot for at least an hour after use. Supervise kids and pets when a grill is in use and have a “10-foot” kid-free zone near the grill.
Mistake #4: Garages and Grills Don’t Mix
Charcoal and gas grills are designed for outdoor use only. It’s a common mistake to think it’s safe to use a grill, particularly a small one, in your house or garage. Never do this. In addition to being a major fire hazard, grills release carbon monoxide — a colorless, odorless gas — that can be deadly. Keep your charcoal and gas grills outside!
Mistake #5: Starting a Gas Grill with the Lid Closed
Lighting your grill with a closed lid can cause a dangerous buildup of gas, creating a fireball. Keep your gas grill lid open when lighting it. If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off, and wait at least five minutes before relighting. Charcoal grill owners: dousing lit coals with extra lighter fluid is another big mistake and doing so can easily cause a flare-up.
Mistake #6: Not Shutting Down the Grill
Don’t get distracted and forget to properly turn off your grill! As soon as you’re done cooking, turn off the burners and the fuel supply for gas grills. If you’re using charcoal, let the coals completely cool before safely disposing of in a metal container.
Be sure to:
Check for propane leaks on your gas grill
Before the season’s first barbecue, check the gas tank hose for leaks by applying a light soap and water solution to the hose and then turning on the gas. If there is a propane leak, the solution will bubble. Other signs of a propane leak include the smell of gas near the barbecue or a flame that won’t light. Consult your owner’s manual.
If the flame goes out, wait to re-light
If you are using a gas grill and the flame goes out, turn the grill and the gas off, then wait at least five minutes to re-light it.
Be careful with charcoal starter fluid
If you use a charcoal grill, only use charcoal starter fluid. If the fire starts to go out, don’t add any starter fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
Make sure your grill is stable
Position your grill in a well-ventilated, flat, and level surface away from your house, overhangs, deck railings. Make sure the grill can’t be tipped over.
Wear the right clothing
Clothing can easily catch fire, so be sure your shirttails, sleeves, or apron strings don’t dangle over the grill.
Dispose of used briquettes properly
Allow burned briquettes at least 48 hours to cool before attempting to dispose of. If time is not available, pour water over the briquettes to ensure the briquettes have cooled completely. Gather all cooled ashes from the bottom of the grill using a small handheld shovel or small broom and dustpan. A dust mask may be necessary when dealing with a large number of ashes. Wrap the cooled ashes in aluminum foil or a non-combustible container. Dispose of cooled ashes in a container by placing it in a trash receptacle.
Grill like a pro