SPRINGFIELD – The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) is reminding residents about the potential dangers of outdoor grills. As grilling season has arrived, it is important for outdoor cooks to inspect their grills to ensure that all parts are functioning properly before use.
“The summer season is time to enjoy outdoor activities, which for many residents may include cooking on an outdoor grill,” said State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis. “We want to ensure that those individuals are aware of the safety hazards before grilling, and take proper precautions.”
In Illinois, nearly 170 fires related to grills were reported last year. According to the National Fire Protection Association, gas grills are the leading cause of approximately 7,000 home fires in the United States every year. Charcoal or other solid-fueled grills are the cause of about 1,300 home fires. As a result of those fires, approximately 15 deaths are reported and 120 people suffer injuries. In addition, 70 million dollars in direct property damage due to grilling is reported every year.
The OSFM offers the following grill safety tips:
• Propane and charcoal BBQ grills must only be used outdoors. Using in an
enclosed space could expose occupants to toxic gases and potential asphyxiation.
• Position the grill well away from siding, deck railings and out from under leaves and
• Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and foot traffic.
• Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
• Designate a three foot “safe zone” around the grill
• Use long-handled grilling tools for plenty of clearance from heat and flames
• Remove grease or fat buildup in trays below grill as to not cause ignition
• Do not apply aerosol sun screen lotion before grilling. Read the instructions as some sun block lotions may not be used near heat or flame.
• Never leave the grill unattended.
• Purchase the proper starter fluid and store the can out of reach of children, and away from heat sources.
• Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited.
• Never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to start a grill fire.
• When done grilling, make sure coals are completely cool before disposing
• Check the gas cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. A light
soap and water solution applied to the hose will quickly reveal escaping propane by
• If gas smell is detected while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.
• Use only equipment with the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Follow the
manufacturer’s instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.
For more information about grilling safety please visit the OSFM’s website at www.sfm.illinois.gov or www.nfpa.org/grilling.