Outdoor grilling is one of the most enjoyable and relaxing parts of summer but getting everyone together for a cookout at the Post is great anytime the weather’s nice. In milder climates, you can safely cook outdoors well into fall or even all year long. If the weather does turn cold, you’ll want to make sure your grill is safely stored so it’s ready the next time you use it.

Grill safety for Posts is important all year round. Annually, nearly 20,000 emergency room visits and 9,000 fire department calls are the result of grills, according to NFPA. The risk of accidents, injuries and property damage don’t go away when the weather turns cold, so it’s important to follow the proper precautions whether your grill is on the patio or in the garage.

Safety While Grilling

Grilling is one of the best parts of summer gatherings, but it can be risky for grill operators and bystanders. Be sure to follow these grill safety for Posts tips:

  • Before using a grill, thoroughly clean any grease, dust or food remnants from the previous use.
  • Check the tubes leading into the burner for any blockages from insects or food grease that could cause an uncontrolled fire.
  • Never use an outdoor grill indoors or in other confined spaces where carbon monoxide can build up.
  • Position the grill on a level surface a safe distance away from any structures or awnings and pay attention to overhanging tree branches or dry underbrush.
  • Avoid moving or repositioning the grill while it is in use or still hot.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher ready, just in case.
  • Make sure propane hoses are securely connected to the grill and open valves slowly when feeding gas to a grill.
  • Inspect the tank and connections right away if you smell gas which could be a sign of a leak.
  • Always use charcoal starter fluid, not gasoline, and never add more propellant once the fire has started.
  • Never leave hot coals on the ground. They can reach 1,000 degrees and cause severe burns to anyone who steps on them.
  • Let coals cool in the grill or smother them completely with water.
  • Never store extra propane tanks near the grill, in bright sunlight, or in the trunk of a car. Gas could vent and build up causing an explosion. Keep it in a cool location with the valve firmly shut.
  • Store propane tanks outside away from structures with the valves firmly shut.

While it may be tempting to leave the grill momentarily to grab a drink or catch up with someone, do not leave the grill unattended. Pass the duty along to someone else if necessary.

Be especially cautious of children when operating a grill. Nearly 40% of grill burn accidents involve children under five who touched, bumped into or stumbled against a grill, grill parts or hot coals.

Safety While Grilling Food

Along with grill safety for Posts comes food safety. According to the USDA, summer months see a spike the number of foodborne illnesses. As a griller, you can help prevent your fellow members and guests from getting ill with these tips:

  • Keep uncooked meats separate from other foods.
  • Use a food thermometer to ensure meat is fully cooked. Poultry should reach 165 degrees, hamburgers and sausage 160 degrees and beef at least 145 degrees.
  • Refrigerate all perishable food within 2 hours, or 1 hour if the temperature outside is above 90 degrees.

Safety While Storing Grills

Safety is also important when your grill is not in use. Uncontrolled fires can result from blocked burners, excess food debris and poor maintenance. Regular cleanings and proper winterization help prevent most problems.

You can follow these deep clean steps once a season, or more often if your grill gets heavy usage:

  • Start the grill, turn all the burners to high and close the lid for 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Turn all burners off, shut off and disconnect the propane, open the lid.
  • Cool the grill to below 300 degrees and then scrub the grates clean.
  • Allow the grill to cool completely before deep cleaning other components.
  • Deep clean from top to bottom—grates, flame tamers, burners and drip pan.
  • Clean the firebox and exterior to protect the grill from corrosion during storage.

Starting with a clean grill, you can prepare for winterization and long-term storage if you will not be using your grill for more than a couple months:

  • Season grill grates with oil and a few minutes of high heat to fight winter corrosion.
  • Uninstall burners, wrap in plastic to keep out pests and store on the grates.
  • Clean and polish the grill’s exterior according to manufacturer instructions.
  • Disconnect batteries and remove electronic accessories if you have them.
  • Disconnect propane tanks and store them separately from the grill.
  • Cover your grill and store in an area protected from inclement weather.

Propane tanks need to be stored properly to prevent gas from leaking, pooling in an enclosed space and potentially igniting. Follow these tips to store your tank:

  • Store tanks outdoors in fresh air and away from doorways and windows.
  • Keep tanks upright to avoid triggering safety pressure relief valve venting.
  • Raise tanks off the ground on wood or cinderblocks to prevent rust.
  • Place in the shade and throw on a tank cover to protect from extreme cold.

With these tips, you can make your Post’s grilling activities as safe—and tasty—as possible.