Grill safety 101: Keep your cookouts fun and injury-free

Burgers, hot dogs and vegetables on a charcoal grill.

Cookouts and barbecues are a staple of the summer season, but also a frequent source of danger.

Based on national data collected by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) from 2017-2021, grilling accidents cause more than 9,000 home fires and sent more than 22,000 people to the emergency room, on average, each year. Most grill fires in that same span happened in July.

Fortunately, following a few grilling safety tips can keep the focus on good food and fun, not on first-aid.

Grill safety tips

  • Use grills outside only. Even small grills used inside create fire hazards, plus they release carbon monoxide, which can be fatal to people and pets without proper ventilation.
  • Keep the grill away from the home, deck railing, overhanging tree branches and any flammable decorations. Make sure nothing flammable can blow onto the grill.
  • Use the right lighter fluid for your grill, and store it away from the heat and out of the reach of children.
  • Establish a child- and pet-free zone. Make sure children and pets are indoors and/or being supervised by someone other than the cook. And keep them at least three feet from the grill. Burns from contacting a hot grill are especially common in kids under 5.
  • Clean the grill well before use. Grease and fat can build up on the grill and contribute to fires.
  • Don’t overload the grill. Excess fat dripping on the flames can cause major flare-ups.
  • Keep a spray bottle of water handy. Use it to douse small flare-ups before they get out of control. The bonus? Water won’t ruin the food.
  • Never leave your grill unattended. And remember that charcoal grills can stay hot for hours after use.
  • If your flame dies down, add dry kindling. Never add lighter fluid once the flame has been lit.

When using a gas grill

  • Check for leaks. Do this in the days and weeks ahead, before you plan to use your grill.
  • Make sure the lid is open before lighting it. This prevents flammable gas from being trapped in the chamber, which can cause an explosion.
  • If you smell gas and the flame is off, turn the gas off.
  • If you smell gas while using a gas grill and the flame is on, get away immediately. This is a sign that there is a leak. Call the fire department, and stay away from the grill.

For more information on grill and fire safety, visit the NFPA.

This content was produced by UK HealthCare Brand Strategy.

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