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Person GrillingWith South Carolina’s mild temperatures, it is easy to fire up the grill all year long. From oyster roasts to tailgating parties or backyard cookouts on warm days, there are few things more enjoyable than relaxing outdoors eating grilled food with friends and family. 

Unfortunately, along with that fun, there are potential safety issues. Before you start planning your next cookout, brush up on your grilling safety tips. Even if you’re a grill master, others nearby may not know the proper safety precautions to take around grills. Whether you have a gas or charcoal grill, review the important safety tips below.

General Grill Safety Tips
  • Never grill indoors, in a garage, carport, porch or under eaves, patio coverings or tailgate tents. Make sure it is at least ten feet away from any building and check for any overhead tree branches that could catch fire in the event of a flare-up.
  • Because of the fire potential, do not grill on a wooden deck. This is especially important if you live in an apartment or condominium complex.
  • Stabilize your grill on a flat surface to prevent it from moving, sliding or toppling over.
  • Keep clothes close to your body; roll up shirtsleeves, tuck in shirts, avoid wearing flowing skirts or scarves and make sure apron strings are securely tied. It’s also a good idea to keep long hair tied back.
  • Cook your food in small batches to avoid overloading the grill, particularly with fatty meats. If too much fat drips on the grill flames, it can cause a flare-up.
  • Keep your grill clean by following the instruction manual for proper maintenance. Use a good grill brush to clean grates before and after each use. Periodically remove buildup in grease trays while grilling.
  • Use the proper equipment, like long-handled utensils and potholders when handling food on the grill. Make sure handles of cooking equipment are turned to one side, away from the heat.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher within close reach to prevent small fires from spreading quickly.
  • Don’t leave a lit grill unattended. Prep everything you need in advance.
  • Avoid grilling while intoxicated.
  • Keep children and pets away from the area by declaring a three-foot "kid-free zone" around the grill, even after you’re finished cooking since grills can keep their heat for some time. 
  • Make sure children understand the tools used to ignite the grill fire (matches, lighters, lighter fluid, etc.) are for adults only. Teach them to report loose matches or misplaced tools to adults immediately.
  • Use a meat thermometer to confirm the food has been heated to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria. Many grill chefs “eye” their meat to check if it’s done, but that’s not enough to ensure a safely cooked meal.
Charcoal Grill Safety Tips
  • Check for any rust damage in metal grills, which make it possible for charcoal to fall through onto surfaces below and cause a fire.
  • Never use a charcoal grill in enclosed areas, because burning coals emit deadly carbon monoxide gas. 
  • Never use gasoline, fuel oil or kerosene to light your grill. Not only is it dangerous, but it leaves an oily residue on your food.
  • Keep a spray bottle or a water hose nearby to control flames.
  • Make sure the fire is completely out before you leave. Since charcoal produces carbon monoxide until it is completely extinguished, make sure the coals have completely cooled for 48 hours before storing the grill in a garage or shed. To speed up the process, you can dump water on the coals and stir carefully. Keep away from any hot steam rising.
Gas Grill Safety Tips
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions included with the grill.
  • Check the tubes that lead into the burner for any blockage caused by insects, spiders or food grease.
  • Use a pipe cleaner or a wire to clear any blockages and push it through to the main part of the burner.
  • Check for gas leaks, following the manufacturer’s instructions. If you detect a leak, immediately turn off the gas at the tank and don’t attempt to light the grill until the leak is fixed.
  • Check hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, leaks or sharp bends. Also, replace any scratched or nicked connectors, which may lead to gas leaks. 
  • Move gas hoses as far away as possible from hot surfaces and dripping grease. If you are unable to move the hose, you can purchase a shield to protect it. 
  • Keep lighted cigarettes, matches or open flames away from a leaking grill.
  • When lighting the grill, keep the top open. If the grill does not light in the first several attempts, wait five minutes to allow gas to dissipate.
  • Keep extra gas cylinders safely away from the grill in case of a fire, it could start a chain reaction.
  • Never attempt to repair the tank valve or the appliance yourself. See a Liquefied Petroleum (LP) gas dealer or a qualified appliance repair person. 
  • Keep your containers in an upright position and never store a spare gas container under or near the grill or store a full container indoors. Do not store or use flammable liquids, like gasoline, near the grill.
  • Transport the container in a secure, upright position. Never keep a filled container in a hot car or car trunk. The heat will cause the gas pressure to increase, pushing the relief valve open and allowing gas to escape. 

Regardless of the type of grill you have, it’s important to follow all safety precautions so you can relax knowing you’ve taken steps to help keep your home and loved ones safe in the process.