Follow These Memorial Day Barbecue and Grill Safety Tips

These grill safety tips will help you enjoy a safe Memorial Day weekend and a smooth summer grilling season.

With Memorial Day weekend swiftly approaching, many people are planning backyard barbecues and using their grills for the first time. From fireproof gloves to grill brushes to all the classic utensils, it’s time to gear up for some grilling and chilling, all while keeping safety in mind. The Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) reminds Hudson Valley residents to make this favorite summertime activity a safe one by following important fire and grill safety tips.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, grill fires spike in the warm summer months. From 2014 to 2018, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 10,600 home structure fires and outdoor fires involving grills, hibachis, or barbecues each year, including an average of 4,900 structure fires and 5,700 outdoor fires. These 10,600 fires caused an annual average of 19,700 trips to the ER, 9,500 thermal burns, and $14 million in direct property damage.

“Everyone should take extra precautions to make sure that accidents don’t ruin what should be a pleasant get-together for family and friends,” says Robert McConville, former president of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York. “It is extremely important when gatherings include children that adults establish a kid-free zone around the grill of at least three feet; and never leave the grill unattended.” A few more tips:

Before barbecuing

  • Check your grill thoroughly for leaks, cracking, or brittleness before using it.
  • Check the tubes leading to the burner regularly for blockages. Follow your specific grill manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Make sure the grill is at least 10 feet away from your house, garage, or any trees.
  • Store and use your grill on a large flat surface that cannot burn (such as concrete or asphalt).
  • Don’t use grills in a garage, on a porch, deck, or on top of anything that can catch fire.
  • Never use a propane barbecue grill on a balcony, terrace, or roof; it is both dangerous and illegal.
  • Keep children away from fires and grills. It is a good idea to establish a safety zone around the grill and monitor children to remain outside the zone.
  • Before getting a propane cylinder filled, check for any damages to it.
  • Never transport or store propane cylinders in the trunk of your automobile.
Adobe Stock / Sławomir Fajer

During barbecuing

  • Keep children away from the grill to ensure safety.
  • Don’t wear loose clothing that might catch fire.
  • Use long-handled barbecue tools and flame-resistant mitts.
  • Never use any flammable liquid other than a barbecue starter fluid to start/freshen a fire.
  • Never pour or squirt starter fluid onto an open flame. The flames can easily flash back along the fluid’s path to the container in your hands.
  • Keep alcoholic beverages away from the grill; they are flammable.
  • Never leave the grill unattended.

Barbecue safely

  • When lighting your propane barbecue, make sure all connections are secure. Open the lid and strike your match or lighter before turning on the gas.
  • Always shut off the propane fuel at the grill and at the bottle after you have finished barbecuing. Doing otherwise may lead to fire hazards such as leaks and faulty regulators.
  • Store your grill and propane cylinder outdoors.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the safe use, cleaning, and maintenance of your grill.
  • Test your cylinder for leaks on a regular basis. When testing for leaks, never use matches or an open flame. Use soapy water or a leak detector.
  • Store your cylinder away from heat and insert a safety plug on the valve.
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After barbecuing

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s cleaning and storing instructions that accompany the grill.
  • Keep your grill clean and free of grease buildup that may lead to a fire.
  • Never store liquid or pressurized fuels inside your home or near any possible sources of flame.

What to do in case of a barbecue fire?

  • For propane grills, turn off the burners. For charcoal grills, close the grill lid. Disconnect the power to electric grills.
  • For propane grills, if you can safely reach the tank valve, shut it off.
  • If the fire involves the tank, leave it alone, evacuate the area, and call the fire department.
  • If there is any type of fire that either threatens your personal safety or endangers property, always call the fire department.
  • Never attempt to extinguish a grease fire with water. It will only cause the flames to flare up. Use an approved portable fire extinguisher.


Founded in 1872, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) represents the interests of volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel in New York State. For more information, visit

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