How To Ensure Safe Grilling

Grilling is great, but any cooking method can be dangerous. A few simple safety tips can ensure a good and safe time using your grill, whether it is gas or charcoal.


  1. Make sure your grill is rust-free. Thin spots from rusting are hazardous and can allow hot stones or coals to fall from the grill. They also result in uneven heating, which is never a good thing! Grills need to be stored carefully over the winter and thoroughly cleaned before storage. A light coating of a food oil (plain vegetable) can protect racks and other parts. Inspect your grill carefully before the first use of the season, and do your best to protect it from rain during the season.
  2. Use your grill only on a level spot. Most grills have wheels or tripod-style legs and even a slight incline can be dangerous.
  3. Keep your grill away from brush, foliage and trees. A drooping vine or branch can easily catch fire, especially during a dry spell. If possible, use your grill on pavement or cement.
  4. Grill at least four feet away from any structure. Many cities and towns actually have ordinances preventing grilling close to buildings, so check with your local fire department and keep a safe distance.
  5. Watch your temperatures carefully. Too high a heat ruins your food and increases risk of fire when grilling foods that have a lot of fat to drip, like sausages, dark meat chicken and hamburgers.
  6. Keep a spray or squirt bottle of plain water handy to extinguish flare-ups from dripping fat. Aim under your food, not on it, at the flame.
  7. Use only utensils designed for grilling. They have longer reaches and heat-safe handles to protect you.
  8. Use oven mitts if you want, but be careful. A stray flame can shoot up and make them catch fire. The new high-heat silicone mitts (i.e. The Ove Glove) are a better choice than cloth.
  9. Wear an apron to protect your clothing from grease spatters and provide an extra layer of insulation against burns. Many grilling aprons are heavier than standard kitchen ones and offer more protection from sparks and grease.
  10. Make sure children and pets are safely away from the grilling area. Many a child has inadvertently bumped into a hot grill while playing tag or chasing the family dog.
  11. Spray for bees and wasps if necessary, especially if anyone is allergic. Some varieties of wasps are attracted to meat and can ruin any cookout (no, the smoke does NOT deter them!). If you are concerned about pesticides, there are chemical-free traps you fill with juice to attract, trap and drown the little stingers.


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