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Your Home Environment Resource - University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County

Household Hints & HELP!

Grill Fire Safety

submitted by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator
This article appeared in the May 25, 2003 Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper.

With nice weather families are doing more outside cooking. Safety is very important when using gas or charcoal grills.

Liquid petroleum (LP) gas or propane, used in gas grills, is highly flammable. Each year about 30 people are injured as a result of gas grill fires and explosions. Many of these fires and explosions occur when consumers first use a grill that has been left idle for a period of time or just after refilling and reattaching the grill's gas container.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests to reduce the risk of fire or explosion, consumers should routinely perform the following safety checks:

Preparing the Gas Grill

  • Always follow the manufacturer's instructions that accompany the grill.

  • Check for gas leaks, following the manufacturer's instructions, if you smell gas or when you reconnect the grill to the LP gas container. If you detect a leak, immediately turn off the gas and don't attempt to light the grill until the leak is fixed.

  • Check the tubes that lead into the burner for any blockage from insects, spiders, or food grease. Use a pipe cleaner or wire to clear blockage and push it through to the main part of the burner.

  • Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing.

  • Move gas hoses as far away as possible from hot surfaces and dripping hot grease. If you can't move the hoses, install a heat shield to protect them

  • Replace scratched or nicked connectors, which can eventually leak gas.

  • Keep lighted cigarettes, matches, or open flames away from a leaking grill.

  • Do not attempt to repair the tank valve or the appliance yourself. See an LP gas dealer or a qualified appliance repair person.

Using the Gas Grill

  • Never use a grill indoors. Use the grill at least 10 feet away from your house or any building. Do not use the grill in a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or under a surface that can catch fire.

  • Keep all children and pets away from grill while in operation and after use until grill is cooled.

  • Keep a fire extinguisher accessible.

  • Use proper utensils that will allow you to be a safe distance from grill while cooking.

  • Do NOT wear loose clothing while cooking.

  • Always shut off valve to propane tanks when not in use.

If Your Grill Catches on Fire

  • If the fire is in the grill portion seems "out of control" simply turn off the burners.

  • If the fire involves one of the hoses, and you can safely reach the propane tank valve, shut the tank valve off.

  • If the fire involves the tank, leave it alone, evacuate the area and call the fire department (911).

  • If there is any type of fire that threatens either personal safety or endangers property, call the fire department (911).

Charcoal Grill Safety Tips

Charcoal produces carbon monoxide (CO) when it is burned. CO is a colorless, odorless gas that can accumulate to toxic levels in closed environments. Each year about 30 people die and 100 are injured as a result of CO fumes from charcoal grills and hibachis used inside.

  • Never burn charcoal inside of homes, vehicles, tents, or campers. Charcoal should never be used indoors, even if ventilation is provided.

  • Since charcoal produces CO fumes until the charcoal is completely extinguished, do not store the grill indoors with freshly used coals.

  • Never apply charcoal lighter fluid after charcoal has been lit. The fire may return into the fluid container and explode.

  • Keep all children and pets away from grill while in operation and until after use when grill is cooled.

  • Keep a fire extinguisher accessible.

  • Use proper utensils that will allow you to be a safe distance from grill while cooking.

  • Do NOT wear loose clothing while cooking

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