Grilling Safety Part 2: Charcoal Grills

Charcoal Grill Safety

There is one time when you do not want your party to be a “blast” — when you are cooking on the grill.  In Part 1, we provided 5 general tips for grilling safety.  Here are some tips to stay safe when using a charcoal grill.

Prepping the Grill

  • Check for rust damage in metal grills. Charcoal can fall through holes and cause a fire.
  • The location of the grill and the items around it matter.
    • Do not place objects that can burn near the grill even after the flames are gone. The grill can continue to remain hot for many hours.
    • Keep combustible items that may be blown by the wind away from the grill.

Starting the Grill and Increasing Heat

  • There are several ways to get your charcoal started.
    • Charcoal chimney starters use newspaper as fuel.
    • If you use starter fluid, make sure you get charcoal fluid and do not add it when coals or kindling have already been ignited.
    • Electric charcoal starters to not use file to ignite your charcoal. When using an electric starter, be sure you have and extension cord for outdoor use.
  • If the fire needs to grow, use dry kindling or more charcoal. Liquid fuel can cause a flash fire.

Finishing Touches

  • About 50% of all grill-related injuries are thermal burns.  When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before removing them.
  • Dispose of old coals in a metal container.
  • Store your leftover charcoal away from children and heat sources.

Grilling Safety Part 1: General Tips

Grilling Safety Series

Whether it’s in the backyard, tailgating or elsewhere, grilling seems to be one of life’s simple pleasures.  Unfortunately, there are potential safety issues as well. An average of 8,900 home fires each year are caused by grilling, 80% of them happening with a gas grill.  Here are tips to help you when protect yourself, your family and your home.

Do not leave the grill unattended.

Choose a safe location for your grill. They should be on a level surface and away from the house, garage or other structures. Be sure pets and children are kept away. Do not use them on a balcony, near objects that can catch fire (including your deck rails) or under overhangs or branches.

Only grill outside. Do not use it in a garage, tent or other enclosed space even if it is ventilated due to the risk of carbon monoxide buildup.

Pay attention in cold weather. On cold days, allow extra preheating time and check meat temperatures with a thermometer to make sure it is safe to eat.  Do NOT wear a scarf or loose clothing that can catch fire.  If it is windy, shield the grill and keep it at least 10 feet from anything combustible.

Keep children safe — at least 3 feet from the grill, especially those under 5 years old. 37% of grill-related burns seen at emergency rooms in 2014 were children under 5.

After Grilling

Keep your grill clean.  Remove fat or grease buildup on the grill and the trays underneath.

Dispose of coals properly.  When disposing of charcoals, soak charcoals thoroughly in water and dispose of them in a metal container.

If you are keeping the coals, the coals should be cooled.  Cover the grill tightly and close the vents. This should extinguish the coals and whatever is left will be ready for next time.