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Time to Fire Up the Grill (Safely!)

Warm weather means it’s time to head outside and cook up a great meal on the grill. This fun seasonal ritual has a flip side, though—namely, an onset of injuries and home fires due to careless cooking practices.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments in the U.S. respond to thousands of home fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues every year. Home fires involving grills can start on a patio, balcony or open porch, such as a deck. These fires cause millions of dollars in property damage, and can result in severe injury or even death.

The American Red Cross has some tips you can follow to stay safe while enjoying those tasty treats at your cookout.

Pick the right location

  • Never grill indoors – not in your house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.
  • Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use, and make sure everyone (including pets) stays away from the grill.
  • Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire. Hot grease or ashes could spill from the grill onto the wooden deck or into dry leaves or grass.

Use the proper tools and techniques

  • Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using grills.
  • Be ready to close the lid and turn off the grill to cut off the fuel if necessary.
  • Keep a fireproof pan under the grill to catch any falling ash or grease.
  • Trim excess fat from meat to avoid flare-ups.

Before you even start grilling, be sure to follow food-safety practices, too—wash your hands in hot soapy water before preparing food, after each time you touch raw meat, and after any interruptions such as using the bathroom, handling pets or interacting with children.

The Red Cross teaches people the skills they need to prevent home fires, including the dangers of being careless while cooking on the grill. For more information on how to keep you and your loved ones safe, visit