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  • 12 Major Grilling Safety Mistakes You Might Be Making

  • Keep our grilling safety tips in mind for a safe (and delicious) backyard barbecue.

    Not Giving the Grill Enough Space

    You may to want to stand in the shade when you’re grilling, but having an awning or tree branch too close to the grill can be dangerous. Floating embers can easily spark a fire! Your grill—whether it’s charcoal or gas—should be at least 10 feet away from deck railings and any structures, like your home, garage or sheds.

    Give yourself enough space, too, says Greta Gustafson, media relations associate for the American Red Cross. “Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill.”

    Leaving a Lit Grill Unattended

    Everyone wants to be outdoors when the weather is nice, but it’s important that kids and pets don’t play near the grill. It’s too easy for them to bump into or touch part of the hot grill. Never leave the grill unattended, and make sure to keep children at least three feet away from the grill, even after you’re finished cooking.

    If you’re new to grilling, this guide explains how to grill just about everything.

    Not Keeping Your Grill Clean

    Cleaning the grill isn’t the most glamorous task, and it’s easy to skip past the cleaning and get right to the food. A clean grill produces better-tasting food that won’t stick as easily, and it will reduce your risk of dangerous flare-ups. If you don’t have a wire brush to clean the grill with, use one of these hacks instead.

    Test Kitchen tip: Clean the grill every time you use it. Regularly remove grease and fat buildup from the grill grates and drip trays.

    Grilling Indoors

    It’s a common mistake to think it’s safe to use a grill, particularly a small one, in your house or garage. In addition to being a fire hazard, grills release carbon monoxide—a colorless, odorless gas that can be deadly. Keep your charcoal and gas grills outside and use an indoor grill pan if the weather isn’t grill-worthy.

    If you’re in the market for a new grill, we found the best grills for your cooking style.

    Grilling Too Much Food at Once

    It may be tempting to pack the grill full of food, but flare-ups can occur if too much fat drips onto the grill’s flames. Instead, cook your food in batches to avoid overloading the grill, particularly with fatty meats. In fact, grilling small batches at a time is just one of our tips to become a better griller.

    If you need a bigger grill, read up on the difference between natural gas and propane grills before you shop.

    Not Using a Meat Thermometer

    Temperature is key when grilling, and meat needs to be heated to the right temperature to kill harmful bacteria. Many grill chefs “eye” their meat to check if it’s done, but we recommend using a meat thermometer to make sure the meat reaches food-safe cooking temperatures.

    If you’re not convinced yet, here’s why you (truly) need an instant-read meat thermometer.

    Starting a Gas Grill with the Lid Closed

    Lighting your grill with a closed lid can cause a dangerous buildup of gas, creating a fireball. This is easily preventable by keeping your gas grill lid open when lighting it. If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off, and wait at least five minutes before relighting. Don’t miss the mistakes we all make when grilling burgers.