Barbecue guide: bbq pit safety tips

By observing a few simple safety tips, using your barbecue pit can be fun, entertaining, and safe for everyone.

Having a BBQ pit can be a fun and entertaining addition to your backyard or tailgate. However, it is important to exercise caution and take notice of a few safety tips to keep your next summer party or pre-game feast carefree and fun.

No matter what kind of BBQ you own, whether it be a gas grill, charcoal grill, BBQ pit, or bonfire, having a bucket filled with water or a fire extinguisher close at hand just in case the fire gets out of hand is always a good precautionary measure. However, in the case of a grease fire, only a fire extinguisher will put the fire out effectively. Also, it is important to heed the following safety tips, as well as teach your children what they can and cannot do when the grill is in operation.

1. Always keep your BBQ grill clean and free of grease buildup. Keep your BBQ grill clean and free of grease buildup. If accumulated grease catches fire, it can be difficult to put out with water, so you should have a fire extinguisher nearby. Keeping your grill free of grease deposits is an easy routine to get into. Before you fire up your grill, use a grill brush to effectively remove any buildup from a previous use. Grill brushes are quite inexpensive and can be found at home improvement stores, grocery stores, and even gas stations.

2. If your BBQ pit is run on gas, or if you own a gas grill, clean the venturi tubes regularly because insects love to build nests in the tubes. This is an especially important area to keep free from blockages, such as insect nests and other buildups, because it not only makes the grill hard to start but blockages can force the gas to find somewhere else to go. The manufacturer's instructions should detail how to effectively clean these tubes.

3. Never start a gas grill with the lid closed. Propane or natural gas can accumulate inside, and then, when ignited, could blow the lid off. Also, don't lean over the top of a grill as you're lighting it. If you have longer hair, make sure that it is securely tied back before you attempt to light the grill.

4. Never wear loose clothing because they might catch fire the flames flare up unexpectedly. If your clothes do catch on fire: stop, drop, and roll. This will help smother the flames. If you are near someone who has caught on fire, remind them of this procedure first, and then locate other possible help, such as a fire extinguisher, a blanket or table cloth to smother the flames, water, or a phone to call 911 if it appears that the person could suffer serious burns.

5. Never use a flammable liquid other than barbecue starter fluid to start your grill or smoker. Gasoline, paint thinner, and other petroleum products are not designed to start grills. They burn explosively, and release toxins that may taint your food and could cause you serious injury.

6. When using starter fluid, place the container well away from the grill before attempting to light it. Always make sure you do not spill any of the fluid on your clothes, surrounding grass, or deck.

7. Although decks are popular places to operate a BBQ, be sure that the area is clear of leaves, dry grass, and other flammable materials. Also be sure that the area under the deck if clear of such things, in case a smoldering match is accidentally dropped between the boards, which may ignite these materials and the deck. If your deck is close to, or attached to your home, this could present a very serious fire hazard. Try to locate or build a concrete area, such as a driveway, on which to operate your grill. Home improvement stores have many tasteful and inexpensive options for laying a concrete patio in your backyard on which to operate your grill.

8. Never store liquid or pressurized fuels inside your home. Propane, gasoline, and any other flammable liquids and gases should be stored in regulation containers away from potential sources of flame such as furnaces, water heaters, and fireplaces.

9. As noted above, it is a good habit to get into to have a multipurpose fire extinguisher available next to your grill. Contact your local fire department or fire prevention office and ask what type of multipurpose fire extinguisher would be best for you.

10. Always shut off the valve to propane tanks when not in use.

11. Always shut off the dampers on you grill or smoker when not in use.

12. Never leave a hot grill unattended. Always have someone nearby to keep children and pets at a safe distance.

13. Never add liquid starter to hot or even warm coals. If your coals are going out, open all the vents then fan the coals with a newspaper.

14. Always wear an insulated fire retardant BBQ mit and use long handled tools and tongs designed for use with a BBQ.

15. A new BBQ pit should be cured like a new iron skillet. You can rub the inside of your pit with Pam, peanut oil, cooking oils, or even bacon grease left over from cooked bacon. Then fire up the pit with a medium fire (225 degrees is good). If you have a Smoker Choke the smokestack control to 1/2 and let it smoke heavily. An hour or two is good, the longer the better. Then your BBQ Pit will be cured and ready to use.

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