Every year, many Americans are injured while using backyard barbecue grills. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 8,000 home fires a year involve gas grills. Solid fuel barbecues are involved in 1,300 home fires per year, and more than 7,000 people are injured while using backyard barbecue grills.
Surprisingly, these injuries are not a result of faulty equipment but as a result of not using the equipment properly. With 7 in every 10 Americans owning a smoker or barbecue grill, many people are at risk. So, before you enjoy your summer barbecue this year, please take the time to read our top tips for a safe summer barbecue.
1. Keep your grill 10 ft away from everything.
The further away, the better. This includes your home, garages and porches. Your grill should not be used underneath wooden overhangs, and watch out for overhanging tree branches when setting up your grill too. This is because the fire could flare up into the structure above. This rule applies to both charcoal and gas grills. At best, the grill or barbecue should be at least ten feet away from any and all structures.
2. Clean your grill regularly.
You’ll want to clean your barbecue or grill regularly and be sure to remove all the grease. If you let grease or fat build up on your grill, this will only provide more fuel for a fire. You’ll also want to make sure that the grill has cooled down before you start cleaning it. Grease and oil are significant sources of flare-ups.
3. Check for gas leaks.
If you’re not sure how to exactly check for leaks, you can do so by making a solution consisting of half liquid dish soap and half water. You’ll then want to rub it on the hoses and connections. Afterwards, turn the gas on (with the grill lid open.) If the soap forms large bubbles, it signifies that the hoses have tiny holes or that the connections are not tight enough. If your barbecue won’t light and smell gas, that is also a sign that there is a gas leak.
4. Keep decorations away from your grill.
Decorations of any kind, look pretty and all, but they provide fuel for a fire. Additionally, decor material is usually made of artificial fibres that burn fast and hot.
5. Keep a spray bottle of water handy.
This tip is especially important because, if you have a minor flare-up, you can spray the water to calm it instantly. Water won’t harm your food, so you don’t have to worry about your dinner getting ruined. This rule doesn’t apply if you need to extinguish a full-blown barbecue fire because it can make the fire spread quickly. However, if a barbecue gets a little bit of control, that’s when a light spray of water will calm it down.
6. Keep a fire extinguisher within a couple of steps of your grill.
Sometimes in life, things happen that we don’t expect. So, anytime you are using a BBQ or grill, be extra prepared to put out a fire (just in case). A bucket of sand or baking soda can be used as an alternative for a fire extinguisher. You need to make sure that the fire extinguisher you use is suitable for grease fires. If fire loses control (and if you are unsure how to use an extinguisher) don’t waste time! Call the fire department immediately. Firefighters have stated that many fire deaths occur when people try to fight a fire themselves.
7. Be careful with starter fluid.
When using a charcoal barbecue, be very careful with starter fluid. Don’t use too much, and never try to use other flammable liquids to start a barbecue. Also, don’t try to use more starter fluid on already burning barbecue. The flame might jump right back up to the starter fluid in your hand. As an alternative to starter fluid, consider using a barbecue charcoal chimney starter. They are much safer.
8. Ensure your grill is stable.
When you set up a barbecue, make sure that it is on flat ground. If a hot grill topples over, you are going to have a big problem. If you are grilling on a deck or a patio, use a grill splatter mat. These will help prevent fires, and they will stop your patio or deck from getting stained.
9. Make sure that you tuck in all your clothing.
Loose apron strings, and dangling shirttails could catch on fire. It’s advisable to wear a tight-fitting shirt when grilling so that hot fat and grease doesn’t splatter onto your bare skin.
10. If a flame goes out, wait before you relight it
If you happen to be using a gas grill and the flame goes out, leave it for 5 minutes before trying to relight it. This is because gas can build up in and around a barbecue if the flame goes out. If you try to relight it straight away, you could get a ball of fire in your face.
1. Turn on the gas while the grill lid is closed.
Turning on the gas, while the lid is closed, causes the gas to build up inside your grill. This could result in a fireball exploding in your face when you go to open/light it.
2. Leave a grill unattended.
You’re going to want to plan everything ahead because fires double in size every minute. Make sure your prep chores are done so that you can solely focus on grilling. The same goes for preparing all your food in advance so that you don’t have ever to leave the grill unattended. Even a quick trip indoors to get more beers could result in a disaster.
3. Overload your grill with food.
Don’t overload your grill, especially with fatty meats. If a lot of fat drips on the flames at once, it can cause a massive flare-up. This flare-up can even light up nearby objects on fire.
4. Use a grill indoors.
Even if it’s raining, please don’t bring your grill indoors. Unless of course, you own a grill specifically made for the indoors. There’s a misconception that it is safe to use a grill, especially a small one, indoors. This is simply not true. Additionally, grills release carbon monoxide. You know, the deadly colorless, odorless gas. This type of gas needs to vent in the fresh air, or it can kill you and your family.
5. Don’t let kids play near a barbecue or grill
This one should be obvious. Children near a barbecue or grill is a recipe for disaster. A lot of kids get injured because they touch or fall on a hot grill. If the kids are playing any ball game, make sure they are well away from the grill. A stray ball could topple a hot barbecue over.
Well, there you have it, Fire Food Chefs! Thank you for reading our barbecue and grill safety tips. Knowing how to be bbq safe this summer is essential to your family and your home’s survival. We really hope that you found these tips helpful and we hope to see you in the next article. Until then, have a great and safe summer!
William Clay is a BBQ enthusiast dedicated to sharing his grilling (and overall cooking) expertise with FireFoodChef's readers.