The team at UAB Medical West loves a good barbecue! But we are also a fans of safety! Can the two co-exist? Of course! Just take the proper precautions… 

Things you definitely DON’T need to do on the grill… 

1. DON’T turn on the gas while the lid of the grill is shut. Because when you do this, the gas builds up in that space, and when you light it… fireball in your face, no more eyebrows. Not a good look. Only turn on the gas for your grill with the lid open.

2. DON’T leave a grill by itself! The math is that a fire - if left unattended - will double in size every minute. That gets pretty big, pretty quick when you’re not looking. Do all the food prep and other chores BEFORE you start cooking on the grill.

3. DON’T use a grill indoors! This is just common sense. The convenience is not worth the risk.

4. DON’T overload! It’s cool - not everything has to be ready at once. In particular with foods where there is a lot of fat drips, this can lead to a situation where a flare up could catch nearby items on fire (or a kid running by…)

5. Speaking of kids… DON’T let them horseplay near a grill. The occasional, supervised, burger flip we guess is okay. But safety first. Football tosses need to be on the other side of the yard. 

Things that you DO need to do…

1. DO put your grill in its proper place. More than 10 feet away from a structure… namely your home. Bonus points if you put it even further away. They do not need to be underneath wooden overhangs. Common sense.

2. DO check for gas leaks. A great savior is that you can smell gas. If you do smell it - especially when the grill is not on - then you need to check for leaks., Take some water and dish soap and rub it on the hoses and connections. Then, with the gas on, if you see bubbles start to form - there’s your leak.

3. DO clean it! This is a bit of a pain, but necessary. If grease and fat build up on the grill, it’s more fuel for a fire. Try to clean your grill right after cooking - it’s much easier.

4. DO keep water nearby! Always know where the garden hose is, and have it ready to go before you start grilling. (A spray bottle of water with you while you are cooking can also take out small fires quickly before they grow.)

5. DO keep a fire extinguisher nearby! Even better… know how to use it! If you don’t know how to use a fire extinguisher, and you are ever caught in this kind of situation… CALL 9-1-1 FIRST! By wasting time fooling with the extinguisher, the fire will continue to grow. Get the professionals on the way. 

Grilling safety is a lot of common sense, we know… but most importantly - it’s habits. Don’t get into bad habits when it comes to safety. Make them a part of your grilling routine, so that you know you’re taking the proper precautions, every time.