It’s peak season for grilling out. YourTown Health wants to help ensure that only your famous BBQ chicken ends up perfectly charred. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are an average of 8,800 grill fires every year, which result in $96 million in property damage and hundreds of injuries. That’s why we’ve compiled this guide of 15 common-sense tips to keep your home and family stay safe when cooking outside.

  1. Give your grill lots of space. Keep it at least 10 feet away from your house. This includes garages, porches, wood overhangs, trees, shrubs and decorations that could potentially catch fire.
  2. Clean your grill regularly. The more you let grease build up on a grill, the more it acts as fuel for a flare up.
  3. Check for propane gas leaks. To test, rub a mixture of half dish soap and half water on the hoses and connections. With the grill lid open, turn the gas on. If you see bubbles, it means the hose could have a hole or your connection is not tight enough.
  4. Make sure your grill is stable and can’t be tipped over. Double check the owner’s manual for correct operating procedures and ensure all parts are secure.
  5. Never try to move a grill after it’s lit.
  6. Protect yourself by using utensils with long handles.
  7. Watch out for any loose clothing that can dangle over the grill, such as your sleeves, shirttail, apron strings and scarves.
  8. Keep a spray bottle of water handy. If you have a flare up, you can quickly spray it. The water won’t harm your food either.
  9. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher close by.  Some can be tricky so take a moment now to figure out how to use it before it’s needed.
  10. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher, keep a garden hose or bucket of sand close to put out a fire. Baking soda is also a good choice for a grease fire.
  11. Don’t grill indoors. Even if it’s small, it’s not safe to use inside. In addition to the fire danger, grills release carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that must be vented in fresh air.
  12. Never leave the grill unattended. A fire will double in size every minute. Plan your grill time so you don’t have to run back in the house to complete other dinner prep.
  13. Don’t start the grill with the lid closed. It allows gas to build up inside that will explode when you light it.
  14. Keep kids and pets a safe distance away – even after the fire is out because the grill will remain hot for a while. And always keep them away from lighter fluid and matches.
  15. Make sure to refrigerate your cooked food within two hours to avoid contamination.