Safety Nutrition

Get grilling

But make sure you do it safely. Here’s how.

Photo: Spiderstock/iStockphoto

Nearly two-thirds of grill owners (63%) use them year-round, according to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association. Here, two experts – Leslie Anderson, president and CEO of the Propane Gas Association of New England, and Emily McGee, director of communications for the HPBA – answer questions and share recommendations for enjoying a safe grilling experience.

Gas grills

Family Safety & Health: Let’s start with location. Where should grills be placed?
Leslie Anderson: Position your grill in a safe location outdoors, at least 5 feet from your house. You want a nice, level surface that is clear of outdoor furniture. Make sure there are no tree branches that could catch fire or power lines overhead. Also, be sure that flags or lights that may be hung up in the area are away from the grill.

FS&H: Propane leaks are a concern. What’s the best way to check?
Check your grill for leaks by using a soapy water solution to spray on all the connections – where the hose connects to the tank and where the hose connects to your grill itself. After turning on the gas, you shouldn’t see any bubbles. If you see bubbles, turn the gas off and tighten up your connections, then test it again. If there are still bubbles, have a professional service the grill.

FS&H: Can a propane tank’s appearance indicate if the tank needs replacing?
Your tank should not have any rust. That could be a sign of corrosion. If your tank is 20 or more years old, you might not have an OPD (overfill protection device) valve. It’s a triangular-shaped valve that has an automatic shutdown and makes it safer for filling and storing the product. Have the valve checked out when getting propane dispensed to make sure it is up to standards. Your local hardware store and convenience store tank exchanges will all have the updated valves.

FS&H: What are some precautions for lighting a gas grill?
Make sure you’re following the manufacturer’s lighting instructions. Don’t lean over the grill when lighting it, and keep the lid open to let it air out. If the grill doesn’t light, give it about 15 minutes to let the gas disperse before trying again. Make sure there are no pets or children around so you can concentrate on what you’re doing.

FS&H: What can people do to ensure a safe grilling environment?
Try not to leave your grill unattended. Keep children and pets away while you’re putting on meats or items that may flare up. Be present when your grill is on if you do have pets or small children.

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