1. Headline
  1. Headline
updated 6/9/2008 2:57:02 PM ET 2008-06-09T18:57:02

Whether your barbecue uses charcoal, wood, propane or natural gas, don't even think about firing it up until you are sure it's safe.

For wood-burning units, make certain that vents are clean and operable and that there are no areas that have rusted through. Embers can wreak havoc with a nearby wood pile or even your home.

A barbecue that is in disrepair is dangerous at best. So take these precautions before grilling:

  • Thoroughly clean your grill each season. Grease buildup can cause a fire that cannot be easily extinguished.
  • Keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your home or other combustible surfaces.
  • Don't barbecue indoors, including in a garage. You can literally suffocate every living thing in your home.
  • Don't barbecue on a wood deck if there is a chance that dry grass is growing beneath it. You can start a fire that can't be easily extinguished.
  • Never use a propane barbecue grill on a balcony, terrace or roof. It is both dangerous and illegal in many areas.
  • Keep children away from the grill.
  • It may sound silly, but a nearby garden hose (or a fire extinguisher) is a must.
  • Rotted wooden handles, a bad thermostat and frayed rotisserie wiring should all be repaired or replaced.

Cooking with gas
Gas grills require even more attention. Be sure to inspect the venturi (near the gas control valve). For some reason spiders are attracted to the supply tubes. They can nest in the tiniest places.

Each season we disassemble the gas lines between the shut-off valve and the burners. Everything is scrubbed with soap and water and blown out using a high pressure air nozzle (this requires a compressor) so be prepared to make a trip to your local gas station if you don't have one.

The burners themselves need to be wire brushed and all of those little tiny holes need to be free of obstructions.

Check and secure all gas connections. A leak can be fatal. Soapy water sprayed onto each connection and fitting will reveal an unwanted leak.

Start your grills
Once your barbecue is up and running, follow a few rules to a safer and more pleasant experience:

  • Don't use gasoline or paint thinner to start your fire. You may lose a substantial amount of hair in the process.
  • Alcoholic beverages can be as flammable as paint thinner — some even more so. Leave your cocktail glass on the table in the kitchen.
  • Use starter fluid sensibly. Apply it to the coals and then light your fire. Don't stand next to the fire and squirt lighter fluid onto the flames.
  • Don't wear loose clothing when barbecuing unless you are set on sacrificing yourself to the fire gods.
  • When using a gas grill never turn the gas on with the lid closed. An accumulation of gas can result in a horrendous explosion.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

TODAY's Takeaway
  1. TODAY

    Savannah won’t ‘overshare’; rapping medic cracks up anchors

    4/17/2014 8:38:13 PM +00:00 2014-04-17T20:38:13
  1. After helpful mom accidentally steals car, rightful owner is found

    When Nekisia Davis asked her mom to move her car and her friends' cars while she went on vacation, she didn't expect that she would instead accidentally move the wrong car, prompting the rightful owner to believe her car was stolen.

    4/17/2014 9:14:16 PM +00:00 2014-04-17T21:14:16
  1. Macy's

    Swimmer Ryan Lochte dives into underwear modeling

    4/17/2014 6:29:23 PM +00:00 2014-04-17T18:29:23
  1. Spencer Platt / Getty Images

    Chelsea Clinton is pregnant! Former first daughter expecting first child this year

    4/17/2014 10:32:13 PM +00:00 2014-04-17T22:32:13
  1. Edgard Garrido / Reuters

    Gabriel Garcia Marquez dies at 87

    4/17/2014 8:24:21 PM +00:00 2014-04-17T20:24:21
  1. Have you tried an elimination diet? Weigh in on the food fad

    Could eliminating certain foods from your diet prevent allergies, fatigue, or headaches? Some people think so.

    4/17/2014 8:30:46 PM +00:00 2014-04-17T20:30:46