How to Grill Out Without Burning Down the House

There are some important things to know before you fire up the flames for a cookout. Charcoal grills and gas grills can both be dangerous.

A south Philadelphia woman found this out the hard way recently. Cheryl Grassia had just put her kids in the house when she said her gas grill burst into flames, giving her second and third degree burns.

It happened so quickly, she says never saw it coming, and neither did her husband. "He said he just saw this big ball of fire come from under the grill and go up," she said.

To this day, the family still doesn't know what caused the fire.

One thing that could cause a gas grill to explode like that is a leaky gas line. Firefighter James Reber explains what could happen. "There is a lot of pressure that could potentially come out of there," he said. "And when it comes out, it comes out like a blowtorch, and it could burn your house down."

So how do you make sure you and your family are safe when you grill?

Here are a few simple, but important precautions you can take to make sure your gas grill is safe:

  1. Clean out the Venturi tubes. Those are the tubes under the grill leading to the burner. Spiders can build nests inside and block the passageways. Most newer grills have spider guards, but older ones don't.

  2. Check all hoses and connections for any leaks by spraying soapy water on the hoses. Then turn on the gas, and check for bubbles. If the hose is older, it can crack and become brittle.

  3. Do not overfill your propane cylinder. Beginning next year, by law all propane cylinders must come equipped with an overfill prevention device (OPD). If the top of your cylinder tank has a triangular shape, it has the device.

  4. Ensure that children can't turn on the gas grill by removing the knobs.

  5. Finally, always keep the grill at least 10 feet away from the house.