Nothing says summertime quite like a barbecue on a beautiful sunny day! Although we are already well into our summer here in Ottawa, there are some steps that you should be taking every time you go to light up your barbecue to ensure both your safety, and the safety of others. To enjoy your barbecue to the fullest this summer, make sure you check out these safety tips to have a safe and responsible barbecue season.
- Clean your barbecue burner ports of rust, debris, and dirt with a pipe cleaner. This will allow you to get into the harder to reach and smaller places. Use a solution of warm water with a pump or two of mild dish soap to clean the entire outside of your grill. Put your solution in a spray bottle for convenience. To see a video of how to fully clean your gas barbecue, click here!
- Thoroughly check your connecting propane hose that leads from the tank or cylinder to the barbecue and replace if cracked or damaged. Even if there is a minor crack, it is best to replace it immediately.
- Check connection points of the propane tank or cylinder with a 50/50 solution of mild dish soap and water. Place some of this solution over these connecting points and look for bubbling. If it bubbles, you have a leak! Tighten the connection and try again. If it is still leaking or you are unsure as to whether it is safe to use, call a professional who is certified to deal with barbecues and propane issues.
- In Canada, it is illegal to fill your propane cylinders or tanks more than 80%. This allows room for volume changes in the tank due to temperature fluctuations. Also, a propane tank or cylinder in Ontario is good for 10 years from the manufacturer date. Once the 10 years are up, you can have the tank or cylinder re-qualified or purchase a new one.
- Set up your barbecue no closer than 10 feet from your home. If you can place it further, do so. This distance also includes garages, porches, and overhangs.
- Only use your barbecue outside in a well ventilated area. Barbecue’s emit carbon monoxide which is very dangerous in enclosed spaces or indoors.
- Position your barbecue away from wooden fences or walls, flammable objects and spare propane cylinders or tanks. Ensure that the back of the barbecue is away from anything that could catch fire as this is the section of the barbecue that hot gasses escape from while cooking.
- If you live in a condo building, check with the owner or property manager regarding building rules about barbecues on balconies. There may also be a common area with a communal barbecue for you to use.
- Clean your Barbecue grill before each use. Allowing grease and fat to build up is a recipe for a grease fire. Empty your collection tray regularly for the same reason.
- Keep a fire extinguisher close by and know how to use it!
- You can also keep baking soda, salt, and/or sand near your barbecue in case of fire as well.
- Keep children and pets at least one meter away from a hot barbecue.
- Do not use a wire barbeque brush to clean your grill as wires can break off and end up in your food. Since 2004, 60+ Canadians have had this unfortunate experience and many have needed surgery to correct the damage. Inspect your barbecue brush regularly and replace as needed. Opt for a cedar scraper like this one or this bristle free brush
- Check your grill and propane tank for gas leaks regularly. Propane is tinged with a chemical called ethyl mercaptan that smells like rotten eggs as propane does not have a smell itself. This is done to alert you to a leak.
- If you are using a charcoal grill, opt for charcoal over lava rocks and cover the button of the barbecue approximately 2 inches deep.
- Never turn on your barbecue with the lid still closed. Gas will build up and it could very easily cause a dangerous fire when you go to ignite your grill.
- Do not use accelerants of any kind on your propane barbecue.
- Some accelerants, like lighter fluid, are used on charcoal barbecues to ignite briquettes or wood chunks, but do so with extreme caution. Never add any accelerant to already warm or hot coals. Read the instructions incredibly carefully and use the minimum amount of lighter fluid required. The fluid releases carbon monoxide as it burns, which is dangerous in large quantities or in enclosed spaces.
- Do not over crowd your grill while barbecuing. Maintain at least a few centimetres distance between each food item on the grill to reduce the chance of a fire. By leaving space, if one food item does catch fire. It is much easier to extinguish a fire as opposed to an entire grill top’s worth of food going up in flames.
- If a grease fire starts on your grill, do not use water to try to extinguish it as it will only spread the flame.
- When you are done grilling, turn off the propane valve first and allow the remaining gasses in the connecting hose to dissipate before turning off your barbecue controls. For a charcoal grill, wait for the charcoal to cool completely before disposing. This could take several hours.
- Never leave a lit barbecue unattended. Fire doubles in size every 60 seconds!
- Use long handled cooking utensils and oven mitts or heat-proof gloves to reduce the chance of burns.
- Make sure your barbecue is turned off and completely cooled before covering it. Wait at least 24-48 hours before disposing of old coal, ashes and/or wood.
To learn more about propane safety, click here!
Now that you know the ins and outs of barbecue safety and care, you and your family can enjoy summer outdoor cooking responsibly! I hope you are having a happy and safe summer and, if you are looking to buy a new home or sell your current home, give me a call!