BBQ / Grilling Safety

Encouragement from the State Fire Marshals Office

(COLUMBUS) – As Ohioans prepare for barbecues and backyard grilling this summer, State Fire Marshal Michael P. Bell urges families across the state to take safety precautions when using their grills.

Last year in Ohio, 103 fires resulted from the use of a gas or charcoal grill. Six people, including one firefighter, were injured as a result of those blazes. According to reports collected from Ohio's fire departments, 72% of the grill fires started on the patio or yard while another 15% started on a porch or deck.

Most gas barbecue grills are fueled by Liquefied Petroleum (LP) gas or propane. Unburned LP gas accidentally released or leaking from a gas grill can cause a dangerous fire or explosion. Problems that lead to fires or explosions commonly occur at two times: during the first use of a grill after a long period of storage and when a new cylinder of propane gas is attached to the grill.

"We want people to have fun, yet be safe when grilling outside this summer," says Marshal Bell. "It is important to follow the manufacturer's directions and take some basic safety precautions when grilling."

Precautionary Measures

Marshal Bell asks grill users to exercise the following precautionary measures when using grills:

  • Inspect grills closely prior to the first summertime use.
  • Keep your grill on a flat level surface 10 feet from any building. A grill should not be used inside or under a carport or breezeway. Never use a grill indoors.
  • Do not move a grill that is in use.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area: declare a three-foot child-free zone around the grill.
  • Periodically remove grease and fat buildup in trays below the grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.

Charcoal Grills

  • Use the proper starter fluid and store the can out of reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • Never add starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use gasoline or other combustible or flammable liquids in place of starter fluid.

Propane Grills

  • Check the metal tubes that lead directly to the burner. During storage, insects can block these tubes. They can be cleaned following the manufacturer's instructions, typically by using a pipe cleaner or wire to remove any blockage.
  • Check hoses for cracks or holes and replace any hose that appears to be damaged. Remove any sharp bends that you find in the hoses.
  • Follow your grill manufacturer's instructions for checking the connection to the cylinder every time a new cylinder is connected to the grill. (An easy way to do this is to tighten the connection and then apply a soapy water solution around the connection. If bubbles appear, the connection is leaking. Turn the cylinder off, reconnect the cylinder and check again.)
  • Do not attempt to repair the tank valve or the grill yourself.
  • Never attempt to connect a cylinder to a grill unless they have matching connections.
  • Always open the lid of a grill before igniting it with an electric igniter.
  • If you smell gas, turn the grill off immediately and do not use it until the problem can be corrected.