May 04, 2018 @ 12:00am

In the Midwest there are two things that nearly everyone loves about summer—enjoying the warm weather and grilling. In fact, July is peak grilling season followed closely by May, June and August. I’m sure we all can agree there’s nothing better than the smell of food like burgers, salmon and ribs cooking on a grill.

This popular summer pastime can be dangerous, even deadly in fact. Are you aware that grills cause thousands of fires, hundreds of injuries, dozens of deaths and millions of dollars in insurance claims annually? Before you fire up that grill for your next barbeque, take a look at these safety tips to ensure your next experience is a safe one. 

  1. Be prepared— always read the owners’ manual and follow safety guidelines for your new grill (they’re usually available online if you no longer have a copy). Inspect the parts and accessories on a regular basis and do not use if there are leaks or cracks.
  2. Children and pets– Stay with the grill and keep children and pets away! Children and pets should never be near a hot grill, period. Their curious little minds can cause injury fast; it just takes a split second to get a severe burn. If you’re grilling at home, the safest place for them to be while an adult is grilling, is inside. If being indoors is not an option, make sure they stay at least 20 to 30 feet away from the grill.
  3. Grease— A grill and grease can be a deadly combination. It only takes a few cookouts for grease to collect and cause a flare-up. A flare-up is when grease or fat drips down into your coals/burners and catches fire. Flare-ups are a normal part of grilling but can get out of hand fast and cause injury. To prevent flare-ups you should regularly clean the grease catch pan, properly preheat your grill, use lean cuts of meat and don’t over marinate your food.
  4. Charcoal— Use the proper starter fluid (reference your owners’ manual to identify the type) and store it away from children and heat sources. Never add starter fluid after the coals have been ignited.
  5. Propane Gas grills are becoming more popular and are the #1 cause of grill fires. With these types of grills, fire causes are obstruction in the path of the fuel. To avoid a problem regularly inspect your tank and hose every time. Bugs, dirt and even small animals can climb into your grill causing the gas to flow improperly.
  6. Watch the weather— Grilling in bad weather just increases your chance of injury. You may recall a few years ago when ESPN’s Hannah Storm was badly injured in a grill fire after wind blew out the flame and propane flooded her grill. She attempted to re-ignite it, causing an explosive fireball resulting in burns on her, neck, chest and hands. She is now an advocate for grill safety and has partnered with the National Protection Agency to tell her story. (
  7. Location — Always grill outside in a well-vented area away from trees, cars, houses and garages. A hot grill can easily cause severe burns, so never attempt to move it while it’s hot.
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