Outdoor Grilling and Barbecue Fire Safety

a close up on a person barbecuing meat and vegetables on a propane bbq

Safety in Your Sizzle!

To stay King or Queen of the grill you must include some basic “fire safety” ingredients in your barbecue recipes.

Whether fueled by charcoal or gas, barbecues are approved for outdoor use only – they emit carbon monoxide. Never barbecue in your garage, tent or other enclosed space.

Read and follow all manufacturers instructions.

Place your barbecue on a solid surface so it cannot tip over and be sure it is a safe distance from anything that can burn - we've all seen the results of a barbecue that was used too close to vinyl siding. Remember too that since barbecues do get very hot you need to keep children and pets away as well.

Be cautious of wind strength and direction before using your barbecue and always stay with your barbecue when it's being used.

Gas Barbecues:

  • Season Opener:
    • Inspect and clean the barbecue including the bowl, fittings, hoses, “O” rings and burners.
    • Ensure the burner’s venturi tubes (the tubes that extend from the burner to the control valves) are properly seated.
    • Use a flexible brush (made for this purpose) to clean the tubes between the gas valve and the burner as blockages can occur due to spiders or other insects.
    • Check for leaks by brushing a mixture of 50% liquid soap and 50% water onto all connections and valves.  If bubbles appear, you have a leak.
    • Never use matches or lighters to check for leaks.
  • Light it Right:
  • Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for lighting your gas barbecue.
    • Generally, to light gas barbecues:
      • Barbecues With Igniter Button:
        • Open the lid.
        • Turn the gas valve on.
        • Turn the burner control valve on.
        • Take a step back.
        • Push the igniter button.
      • Barbecues Without Igniter Button:
        • Open the lid.
        • Turn the gas valve on.
        • Insert a long match or BBQ lighter through the provided hole (usually on the side).
        • Take a step back.
        • Turn the burner control valve on.
    • If the burner does not ignite (gas barbecues with or without igniter button) turn the gas valve off then turn the burner control valve off. Wait five minutes (keeping the lid open) before repeating the applicable "light it right" procedure listed above.
  • Propane Cylinder Safety:
    • Never use or store barbecue propane cylinders indoors.
    • Follow these steps when moving your propane cylinder:
      • Check your propane cylinder for leaks before placing in your vehicle.
      • Keep vehicle windows open.
      • Go directly to the refill station and then directly back home.
      • Keep your propane cylinder in an upright position at all times.
      • Never leave your propane cylinder in an enclosed space such as the trunk of your car.

Charcoal Barbecues:

  • Season Opener:
    • Before using your charcoal barbecue inspect all parts of the barbecue (bowl, grills, sides etc.) checking for holes or weakened areas.
    • Replace any worn parts before use.
Close up image of a person using a propane barbecue lighter to light charcoal briquettes
  • Light it Right:
    • When lighting your charcoal barbecue only use charcoal and charcoal lighter fluid/cubes that are approved for use with your barbecue.
    • Never use gasoline or other unapproved flammable liquids.
    • Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for lighting your charcoal barbecue.
    • Generally, to light charcoal briquettes with charcoal lighter fluid:
      • Keep your barbecue uncovered during lighting and never lean over the grill during ignition.
      • Sprinkle the briquettes with approved charcoal lighter fluid and allow it to soak in (approximately 10 minutes) before lighting.
      • Light the soaked briquettes with a long match or a mechanical lighter designed for barbecues.
      •  Never add additional charcoal lighter fluid after igniting your barbecue.
    • After use and before storing your charcoal barbecue, dispose of the ashes by soaking them with water and placing them in a covered metal container.