Tips and Tricks For Safe BBQs

Barbecuing in the summer is time for food, friends, and fun, fun, fun! In all the merriment, it’s easy to forget that you’re cooking over fire, and fire is dangerous. Propane gas grills have added their own set of risk, including gas leaks and explosions. In fact, in 2002, more than 3.7 million people suffered barbecue-related injuries. Before you throw away your grill and start declining invitations to neighborhood barbecues, keep in mind that following a short list of safety rules will keep you and your family safe and sound. This article will tell you what those safety rules are.


1. Never, ever burn charcoal inside. Charcoal releases carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless toxic gas, as it burns. Indoors, it can build up and become dangerous, causing sickness, brain damage, and even death. Burned outdoors, however, the open air and breeze quickly disburses any carbon monoxide released well before it can concentrate and become dangerous.

2. Use lighter fluid to soak charcoal before lighting it. Do NOT spray lighter fluid on burning coals. Lighter fluid is highly flammable, and it’s possible that the flame could travel up the fluid stream into the bottle, causing it to explode and showering your hand with burning fluid and melting plastic.

3. Always keep a fire extinguisher handy. Hopefully you’ll never have to use it, but accidents happen. Cook meat drips fat, fat is flammable, and flames can flare up expectantly. And never forget the possibility of a random soccer ball knocking over your grill and scattering red-hot coals.

4. Tie back long hair and roll up long sleeves when operating a grill, and never forget to use heat-resistant gloves or mitts when handling hot tools, food, or coals. These may seem like obvious safety rules, but are easily forgotten after a few laughs and beers with friends.

5. Set up your grill away from anything flammable, including the side of the house. This is what patios are for.

6. Dispose of ashes properly. Ashes that look and feel stone cold on the surface may still be smoldering deep inside, even a day later. Therefore, dumping even dead ashes on your brush pile of tree trimmings and grass clippings is not a good idea. Neither should you throw them away inside the house not only could they light your trash on fire, but if the coals are still burning, they’re still releasing carbon monoxide. The safest way to dispose of dead ashes is in an aluminum trash can, preferably one dedicated to that purpose.


1. Before lighting your grill, inspect your gas tank for bulges, dents, gouges, corrosion, or extreme rusting, and inspect the hoses for brittleness, leaks, holes, cracks, or sharp bends. If you find any damage like this, don’t risk lighting it replace the parts instead.

2. Keep propane tanks upright while the grill is in use, and keep gas hoses away from hot surfaces or dripping grease.

3. Never use matches, lighters, or smoke cigarettes near your gas grill, even if it’s off. Even the tiniest gas leak somewhere can cause an explosion.

4. If you have to move your propane tank around (like for a tailgate or camping), don’t leave it in a hot car or truck. The oven-like heat of a car interior in the summer can make the gas expand inside the tank until it explodes.

5. Never bring or store your propane tank indoors, even the garage. If the gas tank springs a leak, you don’t want the flammable gas to build up in an enclosed or poorly ventilated space. Similarly, never store gas tanks near other highly flammable items, such as gasoline or oil.

6. Always make sure to turn of the valve on your propane tank when you’re done grilling. Again, this may seem like an obvious safety rule, but it is one that is often forgotten.

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