Safe BBQ Tips – Keeping Your Summer From Going Up In Flames

With summer upon us,  it’s an appropriate time to discuss safety around the barbecue.  Most of us enjoy outdoor time with family and friends.  Devouring the various, hot, delicacies coming fresh off the BBQ is a timeless ritual going back generations.  It’s as American as Apple Pie and Volunteer Fire Fighting!  The taste of backyard grilling, most would agree, is an art form in itself.  Favored recipes are timeless, as are the memories.

But burn injuries and fires often bring a traumatic end to a pleasant day in the back yard.  Inadvertent burns from hot metal grills are usually a pretty common occurrence, especially with curious youngsters.  Additionally, severe lighter fluid and propane burns have sent untold numbers of folks to the emergency room or worse.  Not to mention that unexpected grease fires can turn into disaster rather quickly.

That said, we at Delano Fire Company No. 1 would like to take a few moments to offer some tips to help your family stay safe around the barbecue.  We’ll start with a few general, common sense guidelines:

  • Charcoal and propane barbecue grills should only be used outdoors, a suitable distance away from exterior walls (10 feet minimum), and away from overhanging eaves and tree branches.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill.  Many accidents happen, unfortunately, with children playing near grills, particularly unattended grills which leads us to….
  • Never leave a hot grill unattended.
  • Keep your grill clean of all grease and residual buildup.   Keep the area around your grill clean as well.
  • In the event of a grease fire, NEVER attempt to extinguish it with water.   Water and grease do not mix.
  • Charcoal starter, propane tanks, etc., should all be properly stored when not in use.  LP tanks should never be store inside.


When you are using a traditional, charcoal grill:

  • Use only charcoal starter fluid to ignite the grill.  NEVER use gasoline.
  • NEVER squirt starter fluid into a hot grill.  The flame can jump back into the bottle with disastrous consequences.
  • Always keep starter fluid away from children and away from heat sources.
  • Be absolutely sure to let the coals cool completely before disposing of them.
  • In the event of a grease fire inside the grill, do not attempt to extinguish it with water.   Place the steel cover over the grill or use a fire extinguisher.   In the event you cannot get it under control, contact the fire department immediately!


When you are using a gas or propane grill:

  • Follow the grill manufacturers safety instructions  and maintenance routine faithfully.
  • Damaged parts and/or clogged hoses and burners should be replaced immediately.
  • Always check for propane leaks, especially at the start of the barbecue season. An obvious leak is indicated by smell, but you can also apply a light soap and water solution to the hose and fittings. Small bubbles will indicate a leak.
  • In the event of a leak, turn the tank off immediately and have your grill serviced by a professional before using.   If the leak won’t stop, contact the fire department.
  • Never use a damaged or dented LP tank.
  • Never overfill an LP tank.  By law, a 20 lb. tank can only be filled to 80% of capacity.
  • Always leave the lid open when igniting a gas grill to prevent a flash off from gas build-up.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, get away from the grill and call the fire department.   Do not move the grill.
  • If the flame goes out, turn off the gas and grill and wait at least 15 minutes before re-lighting it.
  • In the event of a grease fire, immediately turn off the gas and close the lid.  If you cannot immediately control the fire, leave the area and contact the fire department.
  • If the fire is at the tank or hose, immediately leave the area and call the fire department.


These are just a few tips to help you stay safe.  The best tip of all is to always use common sense when enjoying your grill, and make sure you always have the safety of yourself and others in mind.

Please feel free to download and print the attached barbecue safety sheet as a handy reference.

Grilling Safety Tips from the NFPA

Share Button