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Outdoor Cooking Safety Tips

Chad A. Tinsley, Firefighter/Paramedic

When the weather warms up, that means it’s time to get grilling. By following some simple safety tips and guidelines you can reduce the risk of injuries.


  • Five percent of outside or unclassified grill fires occurred in a lawn, field or open area 
  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
  • The grill should be placed 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.
  • Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.
  • Use long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames
  • For campfires, douse the fire with water and make sure the area is cool to the touch. before going to sleep or leaving the area.


  • Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel. Use a long match to avoid burning your fingers when lighting the paper
  • If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid (not gasoline) liquid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
  • Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
  • When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container. Never empty coals directly into a trash can


  • Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose.
  • A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, 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 before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill. 


updated Apr 27, 2021