Before you fire up and start flipping, make sure you know how to keep
your cookout from becoming a catastrophe. Whether using a charcoal or
gas grill this season, follow these steps to prevent your good times
from going up in smoke:
Location, Location, Location: No matter what
the weather may be doing, never bring a barbecue grill indoors
or into any other unventilated space. This includes sheds,
garages or tents. Not only can sparks fly and ignite a flame,
but grilling inside can also expose inhabitants to toxic fumes
and potential asphyxiation.
Keep Your Distance: Make sure your grill is at
least ten feet away from any flammable object—house, garage,
picnic bench, tree, bush, etc. And don't just look around; look
up for overhead decks, eaves or branches that could pose a
The No-Zone: Draw a line in the sand, grass or
concrete to keep children, pets and foot traffic away from the
grill area. Declare a three-foot safety zone around the grill to
ensure that no accidents occur.
Look for Leaks: Always check a propane grill
before using it for the first time each year. A quick sniff
should tell you if something is amiss, or you can apply a light
soap and water solution to the gas cylinder hose and watch for
the telltale bubbles of escaping propane. If you suspect a leak,
turn off the gas tank and grill immediately. If the leak stops,
take the grill in for repair. If the leak does not stop, call
the fire department immediately.
Laws of Liquid: Always remember to have a water
supply close by to deal with any grilling flare-ups. A garden
hose or at least 16 quarts of water will be sufficient enough to
quench a flame. Remember to keep alcoholic beverages a safe
distance away from the grill, as alcohol is flammable.
Grease is the Word: Make sure to thoroughly
clean your grill in between uses. Grease buildup can greatly
increase the risk of a fire. If the grease does ignite and cause
a fire, do not try to extinguish it with water, which will only
spread the grease around. Instead, cover with a lid or smother
the fire with baking soda.
Dress Code: Tell the chef to avoid wearing
loose-fitting clothing that could easily get caught in the
flame. Always use flame-resistant mitts and keep several
long-handled grilling tools at the ready to flip food from a
Next time you're heating things up in the backyard, make sure to enjoy
the sounds, smells and sizzle of summer safely.