Grilling Safety Tips

From Hershel Lee, Travis County Fire Marshal

Before you fire up the grill this weekend for your family barbeque, here are a few safety tips recommended by the National Fire Protection Association.

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills must only be used outdoors.  If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces, such as tents, they pose both a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to toxic gases and potential asphyxiation.
  • Position the grill well away from siding, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area: declare a three-foot “safe zone” around the grill.
  • Put out several long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames when flipping burgers.
  • Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.

Charcoal grills/Wood smokers

  • Purchase the proper starter fluid and store the container out of reach of children, and away from heat sources.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going.
  • Ashes from charcoal or wood must be disposed of safely.  Place the ashes in a metal container and place the container on a non-combustible surface until cool.  After cooling, douse ashes with water before final disposal.  Never dispose of ashes in a dumpster.

Propane grills

  • Check the gas cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year.  A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will quickly reveal escaping propane by releasing bubbles.  If you determine your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame:

o       Turn off the gas tank and grill.

o       If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.

o       If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.

  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department.  Do not attempt to move the grill.
  • Use only equipment with the label of a recognized testing laboratory.  Follow the manufacturers’ instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.
  • Never store propane gas cylinders in buildings or garages.  If you store a gas grill inside during the winter, disconnect the cylinder and leave the cylinder outside.

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