Grilling safety tips

Fire in the grill, under hot dogs and burgers, is a welcome sight at the family cookout. But fire anywhere else can make your summer kick-off barbecue memorable for all the wrong reasons. To keep you and your family safe while grilling, follow these general guidelines:

General grilling tips

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.
Propane grills
Before you use your grill for the first time each year, be sure it’s in working order and ready to use. A few simple guidelines can help:


Guy Colonna, NFPA Division Manager, Industrial & Chemical Engineering, gives some basic tips on how to prepare your grill before your first cookout of the season.

  • Check the major connection points between the gas (propane) tank hose and the regulator and cylinder, and where the hose connects to the burners. Tighten if loose.
  • Check the gas (propane) tank hose for the potential (gas) leaks. To do that:
    • Turn the propane tank on. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose using a brush or spray bottle. If there is a gas leak, the propane will release bubbles around the hose (big enough to see).
  • Once you’ve determined your grill has a gas leak by smell or by administering the soapy bubble test and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and burners. If the leak stops at that point, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak doesn’t stop, call the fire department immediately.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, move away from the grill and call the fire department immediately. Do not move the grill.

Charcoal grills

  • There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.
  • If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
  • Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
  • When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.
NFPA (National Fire Protection Association)
1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02169-7471 USA
Telephone: +1 617 770-3000 Fax: +1 617 770-0700