• Nicholas Long

Let's Barbeque – Safely!

With barbecue season already here, homeowners should heed the following safety precautions to keep their family and property safe.





Propane Grills


Propane grills present an enormous fire hazard. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is aware of more than 500 fires resulting from misuse or malfunction annually. When using a propane grill, the following precautions are recommended:

  • Store propane tanks outdoors and never near the grill or other heat source

  • Never store or transport propane tanks in the trunk of your car

  • Make sure to completely turn off the gas at the valve on the tank after you have finished cooking or changing the tank, as even a small gas leak can cause a deadly explosion

  • Check for damage to a tank before refilling it, and only buy propane from reputable suppliers

  • Never use a propane barbecue grill on a terrace, balcony, or roof, as this is dangerous and could be illegal

  • To inspect for a leak, spray a soapy solution over the connections and watch for bubbles. If you see evidence of a leak, reconnect the components and try again. If bubbles persist, replace the leaking parts before using the grill

  • Make sure connections are secure before turning on the gas, especially if the grill hasn't been recently used

  • The most dangerous time to use a propane grill is at the beginning of the barbecue season, so be sure to carefully inspect your grill, tank, and connections before the first use

  • Ignite a propane grill with the lid open, not closed, as the propane can accumulate beneath a closed lid which may cause it to explode

  • When finished, turn off the gas first and then the controls to ensure residual gas in the pipe will be used


Charcoal Grills


Charcoal grills pose a serious poisoning threat due to the venting of carbon monoxide (CO). The CPSC estimates 20 people die annually from accidentally ingesting CO from charcoal grills. These grills can also be a potential fire hazard. Follow these precautions when using charcoal grills:


  • Never use a charcoal grill indoors, even if the area is ventilated. CO is colorless and odorless, and you will not know you are in danger until it is too late

  • Use only barbeque starter fluid to start the grill

  • Do not add the starter fluid to an open flame because it is possible for the flame to follow the fluid’s path back to the container you are holding, which could cause extensive burns

  • To allow the explosive vapors to dissipate, let the fluid soak into the coals for a minute before igniting them

  • Charcoal grills are permitted on terraces and balconies only if there are at least 10 feet of clearance from the building and a source of water immediately nearby, such as a hose or a bucket with 4 gallons of water

  • Be careful not to spill any starter fluid on yourself, stand back when igniting the grill, and keep the charcoal lighter fluid container at a safe distance from the grill

  • When cleaning the grill, dispose of the ashes in a metal container with a tight lid, and add water

  • Do not remove the ashes until they have thoroughly cooled

  • Fill the base of the grill with charcoal to a depth of no more than 2 inches


Electric Grills


Electric grills are probably safer than propane and charcoal grills, but safety precautions need to be used with them as well. Follow these tips when using electric grills:


  • Never use lighter fluid or any other combustible materials in an electric grill

  • When using an extension cord, make sure it is rated for the amperage required by the grill

  • The extension cord should be unplugged when not in use and out of footpaths to prevent tripping

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions


Safety Recommendations for General Grill Use


  • Always make sure the grill is used in a safe place, where kids and pets won't touch or bump into it

  • The grill will continue to be hot after you finish cooking, and anyone coming into contact with it could be burned

  • If you use a grill lighter, make sure you don't leave it lying around where children can reach it, as they will quickly learn how to use it

  • Never leave the grill unattended

  • Keep a fire extinguisher or garden hose nearby

  • Ensure that the grill and coals are completely cool before moving it or placing it back in storage

  • Always use the grill on a flat surface that cannot burn, and stay well away from any shed, trees, or shrubs

  • Periodically clean out the grease and other debris inside the grill and look for rust or other signs of deterioration

  • Do not wear loose clothing that could catch on fire while you're cooking

  • Use long-handled barbecue tools and flame-resistant oven mitts to avoid burns

  • Keep alcoholic beverages away from the grill as they are flammable!


In summary, homeowners should exercise caution when using any grill, as they can harm life and property in numerous ways.


Article courtesy of InterNACHI: https://www.nachi.org/barbeque-safety.htm





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