Grilling Safety Tips

You’ve been waiting all winter to head outdoors and fire up the grill.  Got the burgers and brats?  Check.  Got the propane or charcoal?  Check.  How about the fire extinguisher?  If not, you’re not quite ready.  Barbecuing is fun, but it comes with hazards.  Consider these safety tips for grilling season to keep your home and family safe.

Create a Dedicated Space

Place your grill outside and away from any structures.  Many homeowners like to use their grill against the side of the house of the garage.  Cooking too close to the home can cause a house fire.  In fact, more than 10,000 grills start home fires each year, and some of these fires are deadly.  Make sure to pull your grill away from any fire hazards.

According to LawnStarter, the average Minnesota backyard is about 8,000 square feet so choose a spot that’s far away from buildings, walkways, and trees.  It’s easy for an awning or tree branch to catch fire, especially when it’s windy.  Consider creating a grilling station set apart from outdoor dining areas.  The area underneath the grill should be stable and free from dry grass or plant life.  Placing your grill on concrete is the best option to keep the grill stable and away from flammable grass.

Clean It Up

Grilling outdoors keeps the mess out of the kitchen, so it’s easy to forget about the spills and grease that could be accumulating underneath.  Make sure your grill is clean before you start it by scraping away any leftover grease or fat.  Empty the grease pan underneath and check for any nests or other flammable material that a bird or critter could have added to the grill.  Cleaning your grill is an essential part of grilling safely.

Know Your Flammables

Propane and starter fluid are responsible for thousands of grilling accidents each year.  Make sure you’re aware of how to safely start your grill and teach others in the family as well.  Just because the flame goes out does not mean the gas is out.  Many accidents happen when igniting or trying to reignite a fire that has gone out.

Don’t light a gas grill when the lid is closed.  This can cause a dangerous buildup of gas and create a fireball.  If the flame goes out, turn the grill off, wait five minutes before you relight it.

Charcoal grills are safer… unless you add lighter fluid to coals that are already burning.  The flames can quickly erupt into a fireball, igniting the lighter fluid container and the person holding it.  And never use a charcoal grill in the garage or a closed space.  Charcoal gives off carbon monoxide when it’s burning, sending more than 400 people to the emergency room each year.

Stay Nearby

Grilling involves an open flame that can be dangerous.  Never leave the grill unattended when cooking out.  Flames can get out of hand quickly, which can mean disaster for your home and property.  Homeowners with young children should also be careful to stay nearby to keep little hands from getting burned.

Be Prepared for Fires

Older grills have a tendency to create more grease fires than newer models.  Make sure you’re always prepared to put out a fire if the flames get out of hand.  Tossing baking soda on a grease fire is one option for extinguishing the flames.  Having a fire extinguisher nearby is better.  Consider storing these items in a permanent station next to the grill.

These grilling safety tips aren’t intended to rain on your outdoor cookout, but to keep you safe while you enjoy the best part of the Spring and Summer.

Content provided by Kathleen Johnson of LawnStarter, who can be reached at (720) 213-8030 or on Facebook.


Be sure to contact your local Farmers Union Agent if you do have an unfortunate fire caused by not following these grilling safety tips – we’re here for you, especially when you need us during claim time!

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