Enjoy a Safer Grilling Season

Right up there with sunbathing and mosquito swatting, backyard barbecuing is one activity that epitomizes summer. But as you plan your flame-grilled fare, plan for flame-related safety, too; nearly 9,000 home fires a year begin with the grill. Sometimes, the simplest safety measures are the most overlooked.

As cookout season heats up, here are a few tips to follow:

Give It Some Space

Like real estate, safer grilling is all about location, location, location—specifically away from most everything else.

  • Position your grill a safe distance from the house and other structures, including overhangs and tree branches. Ideally, grill in an open area, rather than on your porch or deck.
  • Keep children and outdoor activities away from the grilling area.
  • Never grill indoors, in garages or in tents.

Keep It Clean

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the number-one cause of grilling fires is an uncleaned grill. Always scrape grease and particles off the grates in between uses. The best time to do this is soon after grilling, when the remnants are easier to loosen and remove.

Look for Leaks

The majority of grilling fires involve gas-fueled grills. Before each use, check your propane cylinder and pipe joints for leaks by brushing over them with soapy water. If you see small bubbles around the joints, try to tighten them, and try the soap trick again. If in doubt, have the equipment professionally tested before using again.

Prepare for Steak-Off

When you’re ready to get grilling:

  • Open the grill lid.
  • If you’re using a charcoal grill, use lighter fluid on cold briquettes; never add it to hot coals.
  • Use a long match or mechanical lighter for ignition, and have long-handled grilling tools at the ready.


As your food cooks quietly over a low flame, it may seem fine to leave it unsupervised—but fire, heat and grease are an unpredictable combination. Further, there’s the danger of others getting too close to, or bumping into, an unattended grill. For everyone’s safety, always stand by until the heat is turned off.

Let It Cool

Before you remove ashes from your charcoal grill, make sure they’ve cooled completely; this generally means waiting a day or two. For optimal safety, discard into a metal (or otherwise fireproof) container.

As you assume the role of grill sergeant this summer, take steps to keep your home, guests and family safe. Contact Dowd today to learn more about protecting what matters most—in every season.