There’s nothing better than grilling up a storm with friends and family once the weather warms up. But before you fire up the grill, remember safety first. This how-to guide filled with grilling safety tips is an essential checklist at the start of every summer grilling season

Lamb chops, eggplant and onion on a grill.

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Firing up the grill is one of the great joys of warm weather! But before you start searing steaks and charring veggies, it’s important to keep safety top of mind. Following basic grilling precautions ensures you avoid accidents and injuries while still enjoying delicious char-grilled meals.

Want to grill all summer long without worry?

You’ve come to the right place! This guide covers all the essential grilling safety tips so you can relax and focus on how to use a charcoal grill for tasty barbecue feasts, not dealing with dangerous situations.

We’ll walk you through must-dos like how to clean a grill and keeping it maintained, checking for gas leaks, using proper utensils, and dressing properly to avoid burns or fires (yes, that is a concern). You’ll also learn smart tips like safe lighting techniques, where to position your grill, and how to extinguish coals properly.

After reading our comprehensive guide, you can fire up that new charcoal or gas grill without an ounce of worry, knowing you’re practicing safe grilling habits.

Kick off barbecue season with our expert tips, and you’ll be guaranteed to make lasting memories over sizzling grilled steaks or your favorite burgers – not hospital visits! A little grill safety know-how goes a long way.

tl; DR GRilling safety 101

Grilling is undoubtedly a summer highlight. Still, safety should never take a back seat. Here are a few quick tips:

  • Choose your grill spot wisely. Keep it away from buildings, an enclosed area, or anything that could easily become a fire hazard.
  • Have a fire extinguisher or a garden hose nearby. It’s always better to be over-prepared.
  • Place your grill on a flat surface, away from enclosed spaces, trees, shrubs, or patio furniture. Stray sparks can be more dangerous than you think.
  • Don’t leave the grill unattended, and make sure to turn off all burners or close the air vents when you’re done cooking. 
  • Remove any flammable liquids within the grill area. Also, skip the lighter fluid altogether.
  • Keep small children and pets at a safe distance. 
Lamb ribs being placed fat side down on the grill with long tongs.

Place your Grill Away from Buildings

Alright, that may seem like common sense. But seriously, we can’t stress this one enough….

Set your grill up in a well-ventilated open area and at least 3 feet away from anything that could light up from a stray spark. This includes trees, fencing, patio furniture, and buildings like the house or shed. You also want to make sure your grill is on a level surface so it doesn’t tip over. 

Before you get the grill ready for mouthwatering smoked pork butt, give the grilling area a quick once-over — remove any leaves or twigs and check that the ground is level and that there is a fire extinguisher or functioning hose nearby. 

And remember the kids — make sure they understand the grill is hot and not a toy. Keep curious pets at a distance from hot grills and cooking areas, as well.

But here’s the most important tip: never leave your grill unattended. Yes, the fun of a great BBQ comes from chatting with the company while sharing an amazing grilled meal slathered in homemade compound butter. But keep an eye on what you’re cooking — your careful attention could save the day and prevent the food from burning. And that goes for pellet grills, too.

Ready to spark up the grill and kickstart your summer BBQs? There’s nothing like the flavor you get when grilling outside on your charcoal grill–but you don’t want your fun to go up in smoke after putting hard work in on the perfect steak marinade. Follow these tips, and you’re on the right track to a fun and safe summer grilling season.

A black weber bbq grill with flames as charcoal ignites.

Clean your Grill Regularly to Avoid Flareups

At the start of the season, and throughout the year, give the grill a good cleaning. Start by scrubbing all parts of the grill — the lid, the inside walls, the grates, and burner tubes — with a wire brush dipped in a warm, soapy water solution. Wipe off any excess water, then allow the grill to air dry completely. This gets rid of any lingering grease or fat buildup that could flare up the next time you’re cooking. 

If using a charcoal smoker, make sure to clean out the ashes after every cookout once they have cooled. When grilling, only use high-quality briquettes that have been properly stored, and never pour lighter fluid onto burning hot coals — it’s a surefire way to cause a flare-up.

We love Cowboy Charcoal both lump and briqets and Jack Daniel’s charcoal pellets in our pellet grill. All of these burn clean with no added binders or gillers and leave minimal ash.

Cleaning your grill means more than just wiping it down after use. You need to get in there and clean it properly to keep your BBQ going without a hitch. 

For gas grills, pay extra attention to the hose connections and pipes.

A simple way to check for leaks is to grab a spray bottle with soapy water at the start of the season and then turn on the tank. This is known as the soapy bubble test. If you see bubbles, you’ve got a leak! Don’t try to fix this yourself if you aren’t experienced.

Contact a professional to replace faulty parts immediately to avoid any danger. And don’t forget to turn off all burners when you’re done to prevent accidental fires. 

Before firing up the grill, give it a once-over for any signs of damage or wear since your last barbeque. No matter what kind of grill you’re using, always have an adult around to keep an eye on things. This is especially important when kids are present. Grills can stay hot even after you’re done cooking, so make sure children and pets keep their distance until the grill has cooled down completely. 

Our best grilled recipes

Use Grill Safe Tools and Avoid Flowy Clothing

Because plastic melts and flowy clothes, well, we’ll leave that to your imagination.

Dressing right is also key when cooking over open flames. You’d be surprised how much damage a hot sizzle can do. Avoid wearing flowy clothes that could easily blow into the flames. 

Wearing closed-toed shoes may seem like not the right wardrobe choice in summer, but it’s a smart move when manning the fire. Good shoes can help protect your feet against stray ashes, and they can also protect against hot spills, should they happen. 

We also recommend avoiding long sleeves as these can ignite when close to an open flame. 

Use essential grilling tools, like long tongs and heat-resistant gloves, to easily manage the food and grill grates and prevent unnecessary burns. For tongs, keep three pairs on hand, one for moving coals, one for raw meat, and one for cooked meat to avoid cross-contamination. 

​If you have an apron on, make sure your apron strings are tied up and out of the way so they don’t catch fire.

“A good set of tools can make all the difference in your grilling experience. There’s no need for fancy kits with every utensil under the sun, a pair of tongs and spatula are really all that’s needed to get started and keep your arms and hands away from the heat. Keeping them in a case near the grill makes for easy access and less trips running back and forth to the kitchen”. — Gina Matsoukas, Running to the Kitchen

And our other essential tool no matter if we’re grilling the best steaks or pan searing salmon is our digital meat thermomter. It’s the only way we can be 100% sure our food is cooked to a safe temperature and we nailed the perfect steak doneness every time.

Woman cooking on a portable grill.

Know when to call the experts

A grill, like any other appliance, can have its share of issues despite the best care. Sometimes, you might need to call in the professionals. Here are a few signs that your grill needs an expert’s touch:

  • Gas Leaks: Are the flames uneven, or is the propane tank empty? This could be a gas leak. Gas leakage is not something to ignore because it can lead to severe risks. Here’s what to do:
    • Turn off all fuel sources right away.
    • Call a specialist to investigate the situation before you resume grilling.
  • Subpar Performance: Is your grill not heating up as it used to? This might mean it’s time for some expert intervention. A professional can help identify and solve the problem, whether it involves repairing or replacing parts.
  • Unusual Noises: Grills can make odd sounds under certain conditions, often due to issues like valve malfunction or wear and tear. Hearing something strange? Don’t ignore it. Instead:
    • Shut down the grill immediately.
    • Call a qualified professional to check the situation and prevent further damage.

The bottom line: Grill safely, party happily

Grilling is a great way to enjoy time with loved ones, but safety must always come first. Always have a fire extinguisher nearby, avoid wearing clothes that could easily catch fire, and never leave the grill unattended. Be mindful of where you set up your grill to keep a safe distance from flammable or hazardous objects. If you remember these grilling safety tips, your family cookouts will be a breeze. 

Grill Safety FAQs

Do these safety tips work for any type of grill?

Yes. Whether using charcoal grills, electric grills, or any outdoor grills, these are the most important grilling safety tips you need to know for outdoor grilling. 

What should I do if I encounter a grease fire while grilling?

If a grease fire occurs while grilling, it’s essential to act quickly and safely to extinguish it. First, close the grill lid and turn off the burners or close the gas valve to cut off the fuel source. Do not attempt to move the grill or pour water on the flames, as this can exacerbate the fire or cause it to spread.
If the fire does not extinguish on its own, use a fire extinguisher rated for grease fires or baking soda to smother the flames. We also recommend keeping a bucket of sand nearby, just in case. Never use flour or other combustible materials to extinguish a grease fire, as this can cause it to escalate. If the fire cannot be controlled, evacuate the area immediately and call emergency services.

What precautions should I take when grilling in windy conditions?

Grilling in windy conditions can increase the risk of flare-ups, uneven cooking, and accidents. To grill safely in windy weather, position your grill in a sheltered area away from strong gusts or drafts.
Use a windscreen or grill umbrella to protect the grill from wind and maintain consistent heat levels. But also use common sense. If it’s too windy, the umbrella can also become a hazard.
Secure any lightweight items such as utensils, plates, and paper towels to prevent them from blowing away. Stay vigilant and be prepared to adjust cooking times and methods as needed to compensate for the effects of wind on your grill.

This article first appeared on Food Drink Life.

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Well, Hey, Y’all.

Kita is a multi-talented individual, boasting numerous accomplishments such as being an award-winning recipe developer, world-traveled professional photographer, and journalist. As the lead creative force behind Girl Carnivore®, she is widely recognized as an authority on all things meat.


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