Summer brings with it the pleasures of long evenings outside playing with the kids or peddling a bike after work, along with road trips, water sports and flipping veggies and burgers on the grill. Grilling prevents cooking from warming up your house, and makes for some mouth-wateringly delicious meals. But as you fire up the grill this season, keep safety in mind to prevent some all-too-common accidents.

Every year, grilling mistakes cause an average of 9,600 home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and 16,600 injuries that require emergency room visits. Common accidents include operating a grill too close to a home, causing a house fire, or lighting a gas grill with the lid closed, igniting a fireball.

To help keep your family safe when you grill, use these NFPA tips:

  • Never use gas and charcoal grills indoors.
  • Place the grill well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet 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.

Gas Grills

  • Before using your grill for the first time each year, check the gas tank hose for leaks by applying a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak and there is no flame, turn off both the gas tank and the grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department. This step is important because hose leaks or breaks cause 24 percent of outside gas grill fires.
  • Open the gas grill lid before lighting it. The proper order: Open lid, turn on propane, turn on knobs, light grill.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.
  • If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least five minutes before re-lighting it.
  • To turn off the grill, turn off the propane, then turn off the burners.

Charcoal Grills

  • To start the grill, you can use a charcoal starter fluid; never use lighter fluid.
  • Some grills have electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. For these, choose an extension cord rated for outdoor use that bears the UL Mark.
  • Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire once started.
  • Keep charcoal fluid away from children and heat sources.
  • When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

The American Red Cross adds: Use long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to prevent burns. One other piece of advice, this time from UL fire engineers: Keep a fire extinguisher handy.

What to Look for in a Grill

UL experts test propane, natural gas, charcoal, electric, wood and corn pellet grills to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) guidelines for design, performance, construction and quality. Testing a single grill can involve a week of tests, which, as described by Inside UL, include:

  • Temperature – each part has a maximum temperature it can reach, so the test is performed on various components, like checking the handle to help ensure the grill’s heat doesn’t transfer to it
  • Pressure – measures gas pressure on the propane tank
  • Verification – verifies that the unit burns the correct amount of gas (BTU/hour), ignites without issues and doesn’t give off excess carbon monoxide
  • Wind – tests that the burner flame and igniter flame are protected from the wind
  • Rain – tests that the gas and electrical components work after a (simulated) rain storm
  • Combustion – tests that the surrounding material does not exceed the minimum allowable temperature limits when the grill is operated against a corner wall
  • Corrosive – verifies that the grill’s metal is protected from outside elements that could impact the unit’s structural integrity

That’s why when you’re considering what grill to buy, you’ll want to look for the UL Mark, After all, you want one that will help you keep your family safe, and that’s durable and performs as expected.

Then, the other part of the safety equation is applying the grilling safety tips. With that said, we’ll let you get back to planning your perfect summer barbecue. Happy grilling!