Gearing up to Grill

By Kathy Huston

May is National Barbecue Month, and as you compile your patio playlist (“Summertime,” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince is always a must), make sure you’re putting grilling safety on the front burner. Here are a few tips.

  • Think about where you grill—that is, well away from your house or other structures. While this advice may seem obvious, some never got that memo: The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that an average of 10,200 home fires are started by grills each year, causing millions in property damage. Even more alarming: 19,000 people a year seek ER treatment because of injuries involving grills, including 9,300 thermal burns.
  • If you grill with gas, regularly check the hose and connections for cracks and leaks. (Use the “soapy bubble test”: Brush on a soap-and-water solution, turn on the gas, and look for the telltale bubbles.) This is especially important after a grill has been in storage.
  • Never leave the grill unsupervised, and keep kids and pets at a safe distance. The NFPA reports that between 2012 and 2016, children under age 5 accounted for about a third of contact burns requiring emergency room treatment.
  • After every grilling session, turn the tank off, let everything cool down, and then clean the grates of fat and food remnants for next time. The NFPA notes that one out of every five grill fires are caused by starting up a dirty grill.
  • If you’re using a charcoal, never squirt additional lighter fluid onto coals that are already burning. Dispose of spent coals properly and safely in a metal container.
  • Invest in a meat thermometer. According to, the correct internal temperature for cooked chicken is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

With safety on your side, have a fun and flavorful Barbecue Month and beyond!

Sidebar: BBQ by the Numbers

  • Seven in 10 U.S. adults own a grill or smoker
  • Gas is the most popular grill type (64%), followed by charcoal (44%) and electric (9%).
  • Memorial Day and July 4 remain top grilling days.

Source: State of the Barbecue Industry Survey

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