Summer Grilling Safety Basics

Summertime is grilling time!

While charcoal briquettes dates back to the late 1800s, home cookouts didn’t really catch fire till the early 1950s, with the invention of the first gas-fired grill, called “The Lazy Man.” Today, more than 70% of US households have an outdoor grill or smoker.

Americans may be divided on the issues: Charcoal or gas? Sweet or vinegar-y barbecue sauce? Traditional wieners or “bougie” dogs? Raisins in potato salad? Carrots in coleslaw?

One thing everybody can agree on is the need to stay safe while enjoying summer grilling fun.

Get to Know the Three Ps of Grilling Safety


To minimize the risk of tipping over and to ensure even flames for cooking, always grill outdoors on a flat, level surface.

Keep outdoor cooking equipment at least 10 feet away from your home or other structures to reduce the fire risk and prevent smoke and fumes from entering.


Be sure your grill or smoker is in safe operating condition by inspecting it regularly. Start by checking for gas line leaks by looking at all connectors, hoses, and regulators for signs of damage or wear. To inspect for leaks, apply a soap and water solution to connectors and look for bubbles to appear.

Keeping your grill clean will guarantee fewer flare-ups and tastier cooking results. After cooking, use a grill brush or scraper to clean grill grates and burner covers to remove food debris and grease buildup.


Grilling requires constant supervision—never leave a grill unattended while in use. Also, don’t wear loose or hanging garments while cooking over an open flame. Instead, opt for an apron to minimize the risk of accidents.

Having a spray bottle filled with water within easy reach is a great tool for keeping flare-ups under control before they can become serious fire hazards. Lastly, have a fire extinguisher near the grilling area. Make sure to choose one specifically designed for grease fires and know how to operate it to keep things from getting out of control.

Spending a few moments to learn these tips can ensure safe, fuss-free, and memorable cookouts all summer long!

For more information and safety advice, visit the NFPA’s grilling safety tip sheet.

Published on July 12, 2023

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