Consumer Alert: The New York State Division of Consumer Protection provides safety tips to follow when using gas or charcoal grills

Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer for many New Yorkers, and with it, the beginning of barbecue season. As New Yorkers prepare to fire up their grills this Memorial Day weekend, the New York State Division of Consumer Protection (DCP) reminds consumers to consider a few safety tips important for safe summer grilling.

“As we seek to have fun with family and friends, it is important to keep in mind some safety tips that can make our summer activities more enjoyable”, Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said. “This Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of summer and there is nothing better than cooking for visitors and family members to commemorate the occasion, so let us be proactive and careful in following the tips that will make our gatherings memorable and fulfilling. of excellent food and a lot of fun almost all summer.”

According to statistics from U.S. fire departments, about 10,600 home grill fires are reported annually, including about 4,900 fires per year in or on structures. In addition, about 100 reported deaths due to grill fire injuries and about $135 million in direct property damage per year. Statistics from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency’s US Fire Administration also show that nearly half of home grill fires occur between 5 and 8 p.m. and most Home grill fires occur between May and August, the summer months when grills are used most often. Additionally, 79% of all grill fires are from gas grills.

Tips for using your grill safely:

Before lighting the grill, do a safety check.

Have a fire extinguisher nearby and easily accessible in case of fire.
Inspect gas grill hoses for cracks, brittleness, holes, and leaks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing and that all connections are secure. Replace if necessary.
Check for propane gas leaks. Fully open the gas supply valve and apply a soapy solution with a brush to the connection point. If bubbles appear, there is a leak. Try to tighten the tank connection. If that doesn’t stop the leak, turn off the gas valve and have the grill repaired by a qualified professional.
Make sure the grill is clean. Regular grill cleaning as outlined in your owner’s manual and grease trap cleaning will reduce the risk of flare-ups and grease fires.
Make sure the grill is stable and on a flat, level surface. Make sure it does not rock or tilt when you open and close the lid. If your grill isn’t set on concrete or pavers, consider investing in a grill mat.
Always light a gas grill with the lid open. Keeping the rim open while lighting the grill allows excess gas to escape. If the lid is closed, gas can collect under the lid and, when opened, ignite suddenly creating a ball of fire.
Light coal in a charcoal chimney. A charcoal fireplace is a safer way to light a charcoal grill as it does not involve the use of accelerants such as lighter fluid.
Only use grills outside in a well-ventilated area. Never use a grill indoors, in a garage, hallway, carport, porch, next to your house, or under a surface that can burn.

Gas and charcoal grills present a risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning that could cause injury or death. Of the thousands of grill-related injuries reported in hospital emergency departments each year, many are related to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Gas grill Charcoal grill

Pay close attention once the grill is on.

Never leave a grill unattended. If a blowout occurs, turn off the gas or spread out the coals to lower the temperature.
Watch for grease fires. If a grease fire occurs, turn off the gas and use baking soda and/or a fire extinguisher to put out the fire.
Keep children away from the grill area. The outside surface of a grill can become hot and cause serious burns.

Store your grill and fuel tanks safely.

Leave charcoal grills outside. Since charcoal produces CO vapors until completely extinguished, do not store a grill indoors with freshly used coals.
Be careful when storing liquid propane (LP) gas containers. Always keep containers upright. Never store a spare gas container under or near the grill. Never store a full container indoors.
Transport LP gas containers with care. Consumers should transport the container in a safe, upright position, and never keep a full container in a hot car or trunk. The heat will cause the pressure of the gas to increase, causing the relief valve to open, allowing the gas to escape.

Consider food safety.

Marinate foods in the refrigerator, never on the kitchen counter or outdoors. If you plan to use part of the marinade as a sauce on cooked foods, reserve a separate portion before adding raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Do not reuse the marinade.
The meat must be cooked to the proper temperature. Germs like E. coli and salmonella can be present in undercooked meats like hamburgers and chicken. Always check the temperature with a meat thermometer.
Do not reuse plates or utensils. Using the same plate or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood allows bacteria from raw foods to spread to cooked foods. Instead, have a clean platter and utensils ready next to the grill to serve your food.
Keep cold food cold and hot food hot. Keep meat, poultry, seafood, salads, and other cold foods refrigerated until ready to be cooked or served. If the grilled food has finished cooking but is not going to be served right away, keep it warm until it is served. To prevent bacterial growth, cold foods should be kept at 40 °F or below, and hot food must be held at 140 °F or higher.
Refrigerate leftovers immediately! Never leave food at room temperature for more than two hours, or just one hour if the temperature is above 90°F.

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection provides resources and educational materials to consumers on product safety, as well as voluntary mediation services between consumers and businesses. The Consumer Help Line 1-800-697-1220 is available Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

For more consumer protection tips, follow the Division on social media on Twitter: @NYSConsumer and Facebook: