Stay Safe Around the Grill

Whether a person plans to slowly barbecue food or grill it fast, there are several important issues to consider. Grill safety is a hot topic, especially during summer months. Cooking with hot metals, high temperatures, a blazing sun and fuels can be a recipe for disaster if proper safety procedures are not observed.


One of the earth's most destructive forces is fire. When using it for a cookout, it is important to have a fire extinguisher handy. People who plan to use grills should also know how to properly control a fire. Thousands of fires are caused every year by smokers or grills, and there are also hundreds of injuries. Learn how to safely cut fuel supplies when necessary, how to call the fire department and how to extinguish fires quickly. One person should be in charge of watching the fire at all times. Also, learn how to treat burns properly with first aid.


Smoke contains cancer-causing substances, so it is best to avoid direct contact with it a much as possible. Stand a safe distance from the grill between tasks. People can also share grill duties to avoid having one person exposed to smoke for a prolonged period.


Contrary to popular belief, charcoal grills cause more fires than gas grills. One of the biggest causes of problems and injuries is using lighter fluid on a charcoal grill. There are better ways to light charcoals. Using match-light charcoal is one option, but be sure to store it in a cool, dry place away from the sun. Another option is to use a charcoal chimney starter. With these, wadded newspapers are put in the bottom with the coals on the top rack. The burning paper heats the coals and the sides of the unit. When the coals are ready, they are dumped or released onto the grill rack. This eliminates the need for lighter fluid.

Gas Safety

With gas grills, the main cause of fires is fuel path obstruction. An obstruction usually exists under, behind or in the grill where a person would not look. Bugs and debris can wedge into places that cause obstructions, so it is important to keep a gas grill as clean as possible at all times. When it is not in use, cover it. At the first sign of any problem, turn the gas off and wait for the unit to cool to look for problems. Disconnect the gas source properly when attempting any repairs.


Fuel used for grilling causes enough of a risk, but meats also contain fat that causes flare-ups. When cooking with fatty meats, be sure to wear grill gloves. Do not wear a standard baking mitt, because these can catch fire. Use items that are designed for cooking with a grill. Be sure to clean the grill regularly. Grease builds up in it over time and can become thick enough that it will create a hazard. These fires can also happen in smokers, so the same rules apply for those as well.

Food Safety

Bacteria will eat any food and can grow in any temperature above freezing or below 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Until food is ready to be put on the grill or eaten, it needs to be kept cool or hot. Refrigerate meats before cooking, and keep them on the warmer section of the grill until they are ready to be served. For pork, make sure the internal temperature is at least 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Food poisoning is more likely to happen to people than getting the flu, so food safety is very important.

Other Tips

Be sure to keep grills and smokers away from homes and garages. They should be far enough away from exterior walls that a fire cannot spread. Also, do not place them close to shrubs or under trees that hang low. A long-term safety issue is cancer. Charring the outside of meat frequently can be a contributing factor. It is better to cook meats at lower temperatures or use marinades to reduce this problem. To learn more about safety and property insurance, discuss concerns with an agent.

This information is being provided for general informational purposes only. Meemic Insurance Company does not assume any liability in connection with providing this information.
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