Tips to Avoid BBQ Grill Accidents

Summer months often mean lots of time spent outside and grilling out.  But they also mean an increased risk of home fires and burn injuries.  Grilling causes an average of 8,800 home fires each year, and in 2012, grilling injuries were the cause of 16,900 emergency room visits. [1] While these numbers are alarming, grill fires and injuries can be avoided by taking a number of easy safety precautions.

Grill safety tips

The following safety tips can help avoid grilling accidents [2]:

  • Only use propane or charcoal grills outdoors.  Also, grills should not be used under tents or in other enclosed spaces.
  • Place your grill well away from any structures, including houses, deck railings, and tree branches.
  • Use long-handled grilling tools to keep a safe distance between you and the heat of the grill.
  • Keep your grill clean.  A buildup of grease can be a fire hazard.
  • Never leave a grill unattended during grilling.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill.  A safe distance is at least three feet away from a grill.

Propane Grills

Propane or gas grills are responsible for 82% of the home fires caused by grilling. [3] The biggest hazard associated with gas grills is the gas or propane line connected to the grill. Leaks or breaks on gas grills are the biggest cause of gas grill fires. [4] It can be easy to forget to turn off the gas tank, leaving gas to slowly leak out. It can also be dangerous to start a gas grill if the gas tank is on, but the flame does not ignite.

Gas Grill Safety Tips

The following safety tips can help avoid gas grill fires [5]:

  • Check your gas hose for leaks each year. More information on how to check your gas hose for leaks can be found here:
  • If you smell gas, you should immediately stop grilling, turn off the grill and the gas tank, and if needed, call the fire department .
  • Follow all manufacturer instructions when operating your gas grill.

Charcoal Grills

Charcoal grills account for a much lower percentage of grill fires, but are still involved in an average of 1,400 home fires each year. [6] Most of these fires are caused when items are left too close to the grill and catch fire. [7] This can be easily avoided by declaring a three-foot “safe zone” around the grill, keeping flammable items away from the grill, and always staying near the grill when cooking.[8]

Another hazard associated with these grills is charcoal starter fluid.  Be sure to purchase the proper starter fluid, and never use other flammable liquids to light a grill fire.[9] It is also important to keep starter fluid away from children and pets, and to store it away from any heat sources.[10]


Grilling is a popular and fun summer activity, and following simple safety precautions can help to make it safe. For more information or more safety tips, visit

About The Author: Chris Jones is an attorney with Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen. He works out of the Richmond, VA office and has dedicated his practice to plaintiff’s personal injury law. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Chris worked as a high school teacher. His experience as an educator enables him to explain complex legal issues to juries as well as his clients.


[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.


[7] Id.

[8] See id.

[9] See id.

[10] See id.