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May is a leading month for outdoor grilling fires – tips to stay safe

cartoon image of a black charcoal grill with hot dogs on it. The words outdoor grill and the Seattle Fire Department logo showing to the right of the grill

Spring weather has finally arrived. This is the time of year when more outdoor grills are cleaned up and put to use. Whether using a grill on an apartment rooftop or in your backyard, consider these fire prevention and safety tips before lighting the grill. Most grill fires are preventable.

Setting up:

  • Barbecue grills are designed for outdoor use only. Never barbecue in an enclosed area – dangerous carbon monoxide (CO) can accumulate and be deadly. If you suspect CO poisoning, call 9-1-1.
  • Set-up your grill on a flat surface in an open area at least three feet away from buildings, overhead combustible surfaces, dry leaves and brush.
  • Make sure the grease trap is empty and clean and that grilling parts are firmly in place.
  • For propane grills, make sure the hose connection is tight and check the hoses for leaks. This is especially important when using the grill for the first time in a long time.

During use:

  • Never leave grills unattended while cooking.
  • Keep a three-foot zone around the grill where children and pets aren’t allowed.
  • Do not leave starter fluid, lighters or matches within the reach of children.
  • Use the proper tools. Long handled barbecue utensils and flame retardant mitts will prevent burns from heat and flame.
  • For charcoal grills, avoid adding lighter fluid after the coals are lit.

Cleaning up:

  • For propane grills, turn the grill and fuel cylinder off immediately after grilling.
  • For charcoal grills, allow coals to cool for 48 hours before disposing. If you are not able to wait, douse coals with plenty of water, and stir them to ensure that the fire is out. Never place coals in plastic, paper or wooden containers; place in a metal container with a tight-fitting lid.

Check out these outdoor grilling safety videos: