Grill Safety Tips
 
  The two most commonly used types of grills are gas or LP grills and charcoal grills. In addition to the rules for safe use for any type of grill there are additional rules for each type of grill.

  In 1999, gas and charcoal grills caused 1,500 structure fires and 4,200 outdoor fires resulting in a combined direct property loss of $29.8 million. Each year about 30 people are injured as a result of gas grill fires and explosions. Each year about 30 people die and 100 are injured as a result of CO fumes from charcoal grills and hibachis used inside.

  Both propane and charcoal BBQ grills must only be used outdoors. If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces, such as tents, they pose both a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to toxic gases and potential asphyxiation.

 Follow these safety rules when using either type of grill.

  • Position the grill well away from siding, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

  • Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic.

  • Declare the entire grill area a "kid-free zone" until the grill has completely cooled off.

  • Put out several long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames when flipping burgers.

  • Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.

Gas Grills

  Liquid petroleum (LP) gas or propane is highly flammable. 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. To reduce the risk of fire or explosion, you should routinely perform the following safety checks:

  • 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.

  • 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. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will quickly reveal escaping propane by releasing bubbles. 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. All propane cylinders manufactured after April 2002 must have  overfill protection devices (OPD). OPDs shut off the flow of propane before capacity is reached, limiting the potential for release of propane gas if the cylinder heats up. OPDs are easily identified by their triangular-shaped hand wheel.

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

  Use caution when storing LP gas containers. Always keep containers upright. Never store a spare gas container under or near the grill or indoors. Never store or use flammable liquids, like gasoline, near the grill.

  To avoid accidents while transporting LP gas containers, you should transport the container in a secure, upright position. Never keep a filled container in a hot car or car trunk. Heat will cause the gas pressure to increase, which may open the relief valve and allow gas to escape.

  Use extreme caution and always follow manufacturer's instructions when connecting or disconnecting LP gas containers.

  Grills manufactured after October 1, 1995, are required to have three additional safety features to eliminate leak hazards: a device to limit the flow of gas in the event of hose rupture; a mechanism to shut-off the grill; and a feature to prevent the flow of gas if the connection between the tank and the grill is not leak proof. Consumers should consider purchasing grills that have these safety features.

  Always turn off the gas cylinder as well as the control valve on the grill when you are done using the grill.

 Charcoal Grills

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

·         If you have a charcoal grill, purchase the proper starter fluid and store the can out of reach of children, and away from heat sources.

·         If you are using fluid to start a charcoal grill, use only fluid intended for this purpose. It is extremely dangerous to substitute any other combustible liquid to start the coals. This is especially true for gasoline, which can be ignited explosively by even a tiny spark.

·         Apply starter fluid directly to the coals, then reseal and put away the can. Light the coals carefully, avoiding the flame flare-up. Store the can out of reach of children and away from heat sources.

·         When you've finished cooking, keep an eye on the grill until it has completely cooled. Charcoal can be soaked with water to speed the cooling process, but use extreme caution to avoid the steam and splatters, which can cause burns.

  In April 1996, CPSC voted to revise the label on charcoal packaging to more explicitly warn consumers of the deadly CO gas that is released when charcoal is burned in a closed environment. The new label reads, "WARNING...CARBON MONOXIDE HAZARD...Burning charcoal inside can kill you. It gives off carbon monoxide, which has no odor. NEVER burn charcoal inside homes, vehicles or tents." The new label also conveys the written warning visually with drawings of grills inside a home, tent, and vehicle. The drawings are enclosed in a circle with an "X" through it. While the new label requirement will not become mandatory until the end of the year, many charcoal manufacturers have already started using the new labels on charcoal packaging.