Two men cooking hamburgers on a barbecue grill

Grilling at a summer cookout

That Smells Great! Grilling Safety Tips for Successful Cookout

Staying Safe

Warm weather is back and that means cooking outside on your grill! Raleigh Fire Department wants you to stay safe this summer while cooking on your grill. Whether you are a veteran who has been grilling for years or you are new to the art of grilling and just purchased your first grill, we are offering you some fire safety tips to keep you and your family safe. Here are some insights from Fire Lieutenant Lemuel Hubbard.

Placement of Grill

  • Place grill on a non-combustible surface.
  • Make sure your grill is 10 feet away from any structures.

Starting Your Propane Grill

  • Always follow your manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Check all you gas lines for leaks with soapy water. (See video link below.)
  • Open the lid before turning on the grill.
  • Turn the propane tank on.
  • Turn on the knobs of the grill burner.
  • Light a propane grill only with the cover open. If the flame on the grill goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least 5 minutes before relighting.

Starting Your Charcoal Grill

There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to ignite the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel:

  • If you use a charcoal chimney, use a long match to avoid burning your fingers when lighting the paper.
  • If you choose to use lighter fluid, use only fluid intended for charcoal grills.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid to coals or kindling that have already been ignited.
  • Never use gasoline or any other flammable liquid except charcoal starter or lighter fluid to start a charcoal fire.

While Cooking

  • Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic.
  • Keep children and pets, and anything that can burn such as food wrappers, oven mitts and towels, at least three feet away from open flames and the grill.
  • Use long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames.
  • Always have an adult present when grilling. You should never leave cooking/grilling unattended!

Shutting Down Propane Grill

To keep excess gas from leaking, turn the gas tank off first and then turn off the grill burners.

Dispose of Charcoal After Cooking

  • Five percent of outside or unclassified grill fires occurred in a lawn, field or open area. 
  • Empty the coals into a metal container with a tight-fitting lid that is used only to collect coals.
  • Place the container outside and away from anything that can burn.
  • Never empty coals directly into a trash can.
  • Store the charcoal starter fluid out of reach of children and away from heat source.

Learn More!

Here are links to additional information on grilling safety:



Lemuel Hubbard
Raleigh Fire Department

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