Grill Safety

Apr 12, 2014

Ah the days are getting longer and warmer, trees are budding and flowers starting to bloom. Spring is in the air and summer not far away.  It’s time to get outdoors again and for many that means it time to get the Bar-B-Que grill out from its long winter’s nap and fire it up.

In 2005-2009, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 8,200 home fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues per year, including an average of 3,400 structure fires and 4,800 outside fires. These 8,200 fires caused an annual average of 15 civilian deaths, 120 civilian injuries and $75 million in direct property damage. (via

So take a few minutes before firing that grill up to inspect and ensure everything is in proper working order.  This is particularly important for gas grills.  Huge explosions are great in films and on TV but can really dampen a Sunday afternoon cookout.  Here’s what to look for:

  • Check the tubes that lead into the burners.  There are large openings here that can become blocked by grease, spider webs or other debris.  Clear these openings with a wire brush or pipe cleaner to ensure that air and gas can flow through unobstructed.
  • Check the gas hoses for dry-rot, wear and leaks.  Dry-rot will show up as cracks and brittleness in the line.  Also check the fittings where the hoses connect.  If the hose is bad, replace it.  Replacement hoses are typically not very expensive, and are certainly much cheaper than a trip from the fire department or visit to the ER.  Even if you don’t use the side burner (if so equipped), that hose still carries pressurized gas so don’t ignore it.
  • How are the hoses routed?  Are they tight against a hot surface?  Can you reroute them away?  If not, install a heat shield to protect them.

Now that your grille is up to par, here are some general safety tips for the grilling season:

  • Never use a gas or charcoal grille indoors. Ever. No discussion, don’t do it. Even if it’s raining and you think you can use it in the garage with the door open – don’t.
  • Charcoal continues to produce carbon monoxide fumes until the charcoal is completely burned out or extinguished. Do not store your grille indoors with freshly used coals.
  • Do not store your spare LP tank indoors or near your grille.
  • Do not store gasoline or other flammable liquids near your grille.  Half of the outdoor fires that involve grills were started when a flammable gas or liquid caught fire.

Where are the steaks?