15 Barbecue Grilling Safety Tips You Need to Know

Barbecuing is not just a summer activity! In fact, many home cooks enjoy outdoor grilling throughout the whole year.

During the fall and milder winters, cooler weather provides a refreshing environment as you cook on open flames. And – obviously – the sunny spring and summer seasons play host to many celebrations gathered around the grill.

It’s a time enjoyed and shared among family and friends – great food, great people, and great entertainment.

Horizontal image of a thermometer inserted in meat while preparing a BBQ outside while using tongs.

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But with the amount of alcohol that tends to be found at these sorts of events, from fall tailgating shindigs to summer pool parties, accidents can certainly happen!

Even without the presence of alcoholic beverages, extra care and vigilance needs to be mandated around hot and flammable appliances of all designs.

Before you sip on a glass of sangria or crack open your NA beer and fire up the grill, make sure you are more than prepared to handle your equipment carefully – from start to finish.

Here are our top 15 tips to help keep you and your guests safe at your next barbecue:

1. Handle Flammables with Care

In order to be enjoyed safely, extremely flammable fuels like liquid propane and natural gas, briquettes, and wood chips need to be handled with respect and a bit of common sense.

And, please – ensure that all of these items are out of reach from young children!

However, if any older kids or teens are interested in cooking with you, set a good example by explaining to them the danger of mishandling flammables as they cook alongside you.

2. Wear Appropriate PPE

PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment – it’s important to wear the appropriate wardrobe if you are manning potentially dangerous equipment.

Image of the Napoleon Multi-Use Touchscreen Gloves.

Napoleon Multi-Use Touchscreen Gloves

Don’t wear loose clothing close to open flames and always use protective gear, such as fireproof oven mitts or gloves, as well as an apron.

We think these Napoleon Multi-Use Touchscreen Gloves, available in a few different sizes from BBQ Guys are a cool option, especially if you need to check your phone as you’re cooking. Perfect when you need to consult your recipe, confirm internal meat temperatures, or set a timer.

Image of the Barebones Living Chef Apron in black with brown leather accents.

Barebones Living Chef Grilling Apron

And you’ll love the look of this Barebones Living Chef Grilling Apron, with heavy-duty cotton construction in a black color with gray straps and brown leather accents. It’s also available to purchase from BBQ Guys.

3. Never Use an Outdoor Grill Indoors

Both gas and charcoal models emit poisonous carbon monoxide fumes, which can be deadly in enclosed areas.

Make sure that you are cooking outdoors! If you are cooking in a semi-enclosed space, ensure that it is adequately ventilated.

4. Observe Proper Ignition Protocols

Always leave the lid open when igniting your equipment. Closing the lid can cause a quick buildup of gas, which can cause an explosion.

Horizontal image of a chimney starter with hot coals in an outdoor backyard.

If your gas barbecue doesn’t light immediately or goes out, turn off the valve and burners, and leave the lid open for five minutes before trying again. Gas is heavier than air and needs time to clear from the bottom of the cookbox.

Never use any type of accelerant, such as gasoline or lighter fluid, on coals.

5. Keep a Safe Distance

Always ensure your barbecue has a clearance of at least 15 feet from overhanging tree branches, buildings, vehicles, and open doors and windows.

This precaution will significantly reduce the chance of accidental fires and buildup of fumes.

Safe distance also refers to the distance between you and the food – use long-handled utensils and long thermometers to maintain enough space between your hands and the heat source and any hot, sizzling ingredients.

6. Remain Aware of Your Surroundings

Never leave the grill unattended, and keep small children and pets away from the area at all times.

Designate any play areas, whether it’s an adult volleyball game or the kids’ water gun wars, away from where you are cooking.

You can assign one adult on duty to occasionally check in with you, and to make sure the area stays safe.

7. Stay Cautious with Fats and Marinades

If you are cooking with fattier meat cuts, remain on high alert as you are preparing them. As the fat renders and drips onto the coals or flames, dangerous flare-ups may occur.

Horizontal image of preparing burgers over hot flames.

As a preventative measure, you can trim the fat slightly prior to grilling, or you can use a drip pan to catch the fat drippings from reaching your heat source.

Marinades are also a potential concern, because any excess liquids dripping off the food will also cause flare-ups. Simply pat the food after marinating to remove excess liquids.

8. Watch Your Gas Hose

Keep gas hoses as far away from hot surfaces as possible.

Gas hoses and adapters can potentially melt when in too close of a contact with the heat source – so make sure you mindfully watch where the hose is resting.

9. Own the Right Kind of Fire Extinguisher

Keep a small C02 fire extinguisher, or a generous amount of baking soda, close by to douse any inadvertent fires.

And never try to put out a grease fire with water – this will only stoke the flames!

Prepared Hero Fire Blanket

To prevent a messy cleanup, a nifty alternative to a traditional fire extinguisher is a fire suppression blanket.

The 40-by-40-inch Prepared Hero Fire Blanket is composed of two layers of woven fiberglass fabric and an inner layer of fire-retardant film that can isolate high temperatures up to 1076°F. And it never expires, unlike traditional extinguishers!

Purchase a blanket now from Amazon.

10. Use Care When Swapping Tanks

If you have to switch propane tanks mid-barbecue, always turn off the tank valve and burners before switching tanks.

And you also must check that there’s adequate clearance to access the tank without touching the hot surface.

For natural gas grills, periodically check the color of your flame. It should be mostly blue with a yellow tip. If it’s mostly yellow, turn off the gas and contact a certified pipefitter for maintenance.

11. Perform Periodic Maintenance

Maintain your equipment. Simple as that.

Vertical image of preparing assorted meat and vegetable kebabs outside.

Before lighting up for the first barbecue of the year and periodically throughout the season, check all fittings, tubes, and connections to ensure they’re in good condition, that they’re connected tightly, and that there are no leaks.

Save the owner’s manual for your model, so that you can follow any specific cleaning and maintenance intricacies.

12. Get in the Crevices – Clean Those Tubes

Ensure that the tubes that feed the burners are free of any blockages from food grease, insects, and other debris.

In order to do this efficiently, use a pipe cleaner or small awl to clear any blockages.

13. Don’t Eat Metal

Use a good-quality stainless steel brush to clean the grate, and wipe with a damp rag afterwards to pick up any loose bristles.

Image of the Weber 3-Sided Stainless Steel Brush

Weber Original Stainless Steel 3-Sided Grill Brush

The Weber Original Stainless Steel 3-Sided Grill Brush has a 21-inch handle, and will help you clean between cooking grates and in other tight spaces. Purchase it from BBQ Guys.

And you might as well buy Weber’s 16-ounce Grate Grill Cleaner Spray from BBQ Guys, too! It’s non-toxic, biodegradable, non-corrosive, non-flammable, and safe on skin – but it’s still powerful enough to clean burnt-on residue.

14. Store Fuel Tanks Correctly

Don’t bring propane tanks indoors. Always store them outside, in an upright position.

Horizontal image of a large propane gas grill on a patio outside, with shrubbery in the background.

Never leave a propane tank in the trunk of your car on a hot day, either – excess heat can trigger the cylinder relief valve, releasing gas into your vehicle.

Ensure that the valve at the tank and all burners are turned off when not in use.

15. Make Sure “Out” is Really Out

Check that charcoal, wood chips, and wood lumps are thoroughly extinguished before disposing of them!

Charcoal embers can still be hot, even though they look like ash.

BBQ 101

To guarantee a safe and fun grilling, make cleaning, maintenance, and inspection of your barbecue a regular part of your routine.

You shouldn’t wait until a big party to examine your BBQ setup – you should be following safety protocols and standards all year long, including casual weekday dinners.

We’re not trying to eliminate the fun of this activity – as long as you follow our tips, you’ll have an even better experience, one that is both safe and enjoyable for all in attendance!

Horizontal image of gloves, an apron, and assorted BBQ equipment outdoors.

What about you? Do you have any BBQ safety tips, or other general kitchen safety tips, that you can share with the community? Let us all know in the comments below.

We have more tips to share with you for your next barbecue – here’s a sneak peek of three articles among our lineup of grilling reviews and guides:

© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Uncredited photos via Shutterstock. Product photos via Amazon and BBQ Guys. Originally published September 4, 2016. Last updated March 9, 2024. With additional writing and editing by Nikki Cervone.

About Lorna Kring

Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.

19 thoughts on “15 Barbecue Grilling Safety Tips You Need to Know”

  1. Well, I know that I got a good laugh at my own expense when I read the “make sure out is really out” one, and I have certainly been on the wrong end of that one before. We had the old charcoal grill at the last house and I was always guilty of walking away before the thing was fully out, and I heard about from everyone. The good news is that I am not on a gas grill, and that really makes things easier for me. Good stuff, and thanks for sharing.

  2. I like the advice about periodical maintenance, unfortunately I didn’t take that advice in the past when people have told me and I ended up ruining my gas tubes and a ptank because they weren’t tightened up properly. Guess I learned my lesson from that.

  3. Well, this is an interesting read, but for some reason I was expecting barbecue tips. I guess that’s my reading comprehension going since I should have seen the word safety in there. These are all very basic tips but they usually have to be said since there are always going to be people who try to have an indoor barbecue or come close to burning down their homes due to their lack of precaution.

  4. These sound really self-explanatory, but unfortunately, people neglect them more than they should. I’ve seen kids get burned when they play around a grill. A lot of people think that if they close the lid, the grill is automatically safe, but kids and pets can bump into it, and the outside is still very hot. Grills can also tip over fairly easily. Enjoy your cookout, but please keep an eye on the grill at all times!

    • Thanks Happy Koi – even when we’re mindful of a hot Q, accidents happen easily enough and a BBQ definitely needs to be monitored when there’s a crowd.

  5. One day we had to take my dad to the hospital because he was prettending to be a ‘PRO’ griller whilst he was quite drunk, he burnt one of his hands and he was also playing with it like if it was a steak or something like that. Thank you for sharing this information, it’s really useful for those ‘PRO’ grillers, indeed.

    • Oh, ouch! That’s a good tip all on its own Casiox! Grilling and excessive alcohol consumption don’t mix… at least, wait ’til the fire’s out first!

  6. I think the tailgate food always tastes better when there is less alcohol involved. Our recent cookout involved one of our guests taking over the barbie. That wouldn’t have been so bad except he brought a load of bottled beer along for the ride. There were 14 year old kids who were food prepping better than that guy. Cookout cleanup was a bummer the next day, the drunk left food on the grill and glass bottles scattered all around the back porch. I think it’s funny when people act like there HAS to be beer to make things “better” on the grill. I say they should keep it on the sausages and steaks, instead of consuming it while grilling.

    • Excessive drinking is never a good sign geno, but there’s nothing wrong with a brew or two for those who enjoy it – it’s that excessive part that gets scary, especially around a hot grill!

  7. Lots of great tips here! We love cooking our meals on the grill, though sometimes its a pain. My fiance is notorious for putting the fire “out” and two hours later go to bring the grill inside and its still burning! He just closes it without suffocating the fire! Lol

  8. Hey Lorna,

    Thank you for covering top safety tips in this great post. I really love it. Actually, I follow many of your tips whenever I use the BBQ grill for parties. And you know what, I have an extra small tip if you like to include in the list.

    I always keep a spray bottle of water handy. If I have a minor flare-up, I can spray it with the water to immediately calm it. And the water won’t harm my food, so I can still enjoy my dinner 🙂

  9. For #13, a chimney starter can really come in handy so not to have to use lighter fluid. They’re cheap and easy to use. I highly recommend one.
    Great safety tips here! Things that need to be restated for those who think they’re invincible and can end up ruining a great BBQ for others.

  10. I liked that you said that barbecue grills must be at least 15 feet from trees, vehicles, and your house. My husband and I will take note of this since we have decided to purchase a gas grill next Sunday. Our family loves eating around the garden, so we thought of having a grill that can make our dinner parties a lot more enjoyable.


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