Dos and don’ts of grilling safety

May 31, 2017 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

Nothing spoils a good old fashioned family barbeque more than a fire and somebody getting hurt. The start of the summer should be all about fresh hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill and friendly fun – not memories of burns that you want to forget.

Freshen up your grilling IQ and keep it safe this summer with these not-so-obvious grilling do’s and don’ts:


  • Keep your grill away from your home, garage or carport, deck railings or overhanging trees and branches at all times.
  • Make sure your grill is on stable, level ground.
  • Clean your grill after every use to remove grease, food and other fat buildup that could cause a fire.
  • Test your grill for a gas leak before every use with a 50/50 solution of dish soap and water.
  • Keep lighter fluids capped and a safe distance away from the grill. If you are using a charcoal grill, use only charcoal starter fluid and never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
  • Open your grill correctly by making sure the lid is open when you’re lighting the grill. Here’s a great beginners guide to grilling.
  • Turn off your propane tank first before turning off the knob on your grill when you are finished cooking.
  • Purchase long handed utensils like tongs or forks to help you cook meat. Long handed utensils can help you avoid splatters and burns when you are grilling. Avoid using all metal, as metal heats up quickly which can burn your hands.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Limit the amount of red meat you eat and pay close attention to your grilling temperature. Recent studies show there may be a link between eating grilled meat and an increased risk of some types of cancers due to the high temperature at which meat is cooked. To reduce the risk, avoid direct exposure of meat to an open flame or a hot metal surface and limit your cooking time at high temperatures.


  • Use your grill inside your garage, house or trailer. The United States Fire Administration recommends keeping at least a 3-foot safe zone around your grill and camp fire to help keep kids and pets safe.
  • Leave the grill unattended while it is on or while food is cooking. Stay near your grill at all times.
  • Try to move or cover a lit or hot grill. A grill will stay hot for at least an hour after use.
  • Smoke near your grill. Practice fire safety and be smart.
  • Wear loose clothing. If you wear an apron, make sure the strings do not hang over the grill where they could catch fire.
  • Try to ignite your grill immediately if it is not starting. Wait at least 5 minutes for the gas to dissipate before trying to start your grill again.
  • Press down on your meat with a spatula while it is cooking. Those cool sear marks are neat, but they may cause flare-ups. Get sear marks safely by following these tips.

Learn more about pre-cookout preparation and smart food handling.

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