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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Tips for summer grilling safety

STILLWATER, Okla. – When it comes to summer fun, one thing many families enjoy is cooking on the grill. Whether it is charcoal or gas, there is something that definitely says summer when grilling.

But along with all of the tasty foods consumers may cook this summer, they also need to keep safety in mind, said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist.

“Placement of your outdoor grill is essential. Keep it at least 10 feet from your house, and father is even better,” Peek said. “This includes all parts of your home such as carports, porches and garages. Grills, either gas or charcoal, also shouldn’t be used underneath wooden overhangs because the fire could flare up into the structure above.”

When lighting the grill, make sure the lid is always up. Gas can build up inside the grill, and when you light it, a fireball could explode in your face.

Be sure to check for gas leaks. Make a solution of half liquid dish soap and half water and rub it on the hoses and connection, then turn on the gas. Again, make sure the lid of the grill is open. If the soap forms large bubbles, that is a sign the hoses have tiny holes or the connections are not tight enough.

Peek also recommends keeping a spray bottle of water, as well as a fire extinguisher nearby.

“The water bottle will come in handy in the event of a small flare-up. Just spray the flames and you should be fine,” she said. “The good thing is the water won’t hurt whatever it is you’re grilling. In the event of a larger fire, make sure you know how to use the fire extinguisher before you even light the grill. When your patio is on fire is no time to be reading the directions to learn how to use it. If your fire does start to get out of control, call 911 immediately.”

Another safety tip is to keep decorations such as hanging baskets, patio furniture cushions and table umbrellas away from the grill. They may look pretty on your patio, but they are simply fuel for a fire.

When placing foods on the grill, be sure to not overload it, especially if you’re cooking fatty meats.

“If too much fat drips on the flames, it can cause a large flare-up very quickly,” Peek said.

In addition, never leave the grill unattended. Fires can double in size every 60 seconds. Plan ahead and make sure all of your grilling prep work is done ahead of time so you can devote 100 percent of your attention to the grill.

“Summer is a fun time for the family and gathering in the backyard for a barbecue is something many people enjoy,” she said. “Using these safety tips will help ensure an enjoyable time together.”


Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.

Trisha Gedon
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
136 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK  74078
405-744-3625 (phone)
405-744-5739 (fax)

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078