BBQ Safety Tips


With Memorial Day weekend swiftly approaching, families and friends will be gathering to celebrate the unofficial start of summer, and many will be firing up their grills for the first time since last year. The Nassau County Firefighters Museum & Education Center urges all Long Islanders to follow some basic rules and tishutterstock_141609646ps to avoid accidents and injuries, and to remember to call for help if needed.


“Memorial Day is a time for reflection and commemoration and when family and friends gather this time of year, they invariably prepare a grilled meal,” said Nassau County Firefighters Museum’s Chief Safety Instructor, Chief John V. Murray “We urge all Long Islanders to heed some basic barbecuing and grilling safety guidelines to minimize the potential for accidents during the holiday weekend. With these tips, everyone can enjoy a happy and safe start to the summer.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are an average of 8,900 home fires caused by grilling, with the peak months being May, June, July, and August. The leading causes of grill fires included a failure to clean it; having the grill too close to something flammable; and leaving the grill unattended. In 2014, 16,600 patients were sent to the emergency room with a grilling-related injury.

Nassau County Firefighters Museum offers the following safety tips to avoid accidents:


  • Check your grill thoroughly for leaks, cracking or brittleness before using it.
  • Check the tubes leading to the burner regularly for blockages. Check your specific grill manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Make sure the grill is at least 10 feet away from your house, garage or trees.
  • Store and use your grill on a large flat surface that cannot burn (i.e. – 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.



  • Keep children away from the grill.
  • Don’t wear loose clothing that might catch fire.
  • Use long-handled barbecue tools and/or 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.



  • When lighting your propane barbecue, make sure all the connections are secure and 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. Otherwise, this will lead to fire hazards, such as leaks and faulty regulators.
  • Store your BBQ 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.



  • 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 and/or near any possible sources of flame.



  • 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.
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Elizabeth Johnson is former editor of Manhasset Press and Manhasset Press Magazine. Growing up in nearby Garden City and attending New York University, she is well-versed in the locale and knowledgeable about the beat she covers. Her community involvement is extensive and includes the Manhasset SCA, Kiwanis International, Manhasset Chamber of Commerce, St. Mary’s Church, and various civic and local charitable organizations. Curious by nature, her travels, community service, love of the arts as well as local sports give her the inside view to unique content. During her time at Anton, she has received several awards from the New York Press Association and the Press Club of LI, including the coveted "Best Community Newspaper" several years in a row.


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