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9 Tips for Grilling from Maryland State Fire Marshal

How to stay safe using a gas grill or a charcoal grill.

Maryland State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci offered tips for outdoor cooking that he says could help prevent something from ruining the holiday barbecue. Here they are, provided by the Office of the State Fire Marshal:

Tips for gas grills
  • Check all connections with soapy water to make sure they are tight. The appearance of bubbles indicates leaks—retighten any leaking connections.
  • Keep grease out of the hose or gas cylinder.
  • Store the cylinder (including those attached to barbecues), outside in a shaded, cool area out of direct sunlight.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Transport liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders on the floor of the vehicle with all windows open. Cylinders should be in the upright position. Never transport cylinders in the trunk of a vehicle. Remove the cylinder from the vehicle as soon as possible.
Tips for charcoal grills
  • Use only a small amount of charcoal starter fuel. A little goes a long way! Consider using charcoal that does not require starter fuel for ignition. 
  • Never add starter fuel once the fire has been started. Fire can easily follow the stream of fluid back to the container and possibly cause an explosion.
  • Wet ashes with water before emptying the grill. Ashes may contain live coals that can start a fire if not disposed of properly. 
  • Don't use the grill inside, even in a garage, on a porch or on a balcony, the fire marshal said. "Charcoal grills produce carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless, and poisonous gas, which even in small quantities can cause injury or death," Geraci said. 
“These tips will help reduce the chance of a tragedy that could ruin an otherwise fun-filled time of the year,” according to Geraci.
Trevor Gryffyn May 26, 2014 at 09:13 AM
Starter fuel? Good tips... but why not "consider using a chimney instead of starter fuel". Works fast and without lighter fluid.
Kolo Jezdec May 26, 2014 at 05:57 PM
Good point. A chimney starter, newspaper, and a few drops of canola oil on the newspaper will get your coals going just fine. No danger of a giant flareup, and no starter fluid smell in your food.
Bryan Harz May 27, 2014 at 03:47 PM
I use an electric charcoal starter. Requires no fluid and no need for match-light style charcoal. My dad used one of these my entire childhood, so I've always thought they were the norm. Every time I use it everyone says "what's that"?? It works great, you can buy them almost anywhere, and they are cheap. http://www.homedepot.com/p/Brinkmann-Electric-Charcoal-Starter-812-9137-S/202519662

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