With Mother’s Day gatherings and Memorial Day weekend approaching, and Father’s Day picnics and backyard graduation parties soon to follow, grilling season is officially here.

In addition to practicing safe social distancing, you’ll also want to practice safe operation of your gas grill.

Patricia Salzer, RD, Wellbeing Engagement Consultant at Univera Healthcare

Sixty-one percent of U.S. households own a gas grill according to a 2020 survey conducted by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. And while that means lots of great smells wafting through your neighborhood as you take your evening walk, it also means an increased risk on your block for residential fires, and their chance for injury and property loss.

“As the grilling season gets underway, we hear a lot about safe food handling, but we also need be reminded of safety practices for maintaining and operating our gas grills,” said Patricia Salzer, RD, Wellbeing Engagement Consultant at Univera Healthcare. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that, on average, there are 10,600 home fires started by grills each year, with gas grills contributing to a higher number of fires than charcoal grills.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission urges backyard chefs to check their grills before their first use of the season, and then re-check them regularly. The agency offers the following safety tips:


– Check to see if your gas grill has been recalled by going to SaferProducts.gov. If the grill has been recalled, contact the manufacturer and stop using it until you get a repair or replacement.

– Visually inspect the hoses on a gas grill for cracking, 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. Open the gas supply valve fully and apply a soapy solution with a brush at the connection point. If bubbles appear, there is a leak. Try tightening the tank connection. If that doesn’t stop the leak, close the gas valve and have the grill repaired by a qualified professional.

– Keep the grill clean. Regularly cleaning the grill, as described in the owner’s manual, and also cleaning the grease trap, will reduce the risk of flare-ups and grease fires.

“Use grills outside only in a well-ventilated area, and never indoors or in a garage, breezeway, carport, porch or under a surface that will burn,” cautions Salzer.

Additional safety tips include keeping the grill hoses as far away as possible from hot surfaces and dripping hot grease, and keeping children away from the grill area, since the outside grill surface can get hot and cause burns when touched. Nearly 20,000 people go to the emergency room each year because of injuries involving grills, with about half of them for thermal burns, according to the NFPA.

See Patricia Salzer’s tips for grilling healthy meals on Univera Healthcare’s YouTube channel athttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vY7dlI39ozE .