Okay, here’s a question that is often asked and the answer usually tends to be the same. What’s the question?
“Can you leave a gas grill unattended?”
So… what’s the usual answer? “You should never leave a gas grill unattended.”
That’s not just your parents talking. Those are also companies that make money off of your grilling habits and want you to be safe and keep using their products.
The recommendation to never leave a gas grill unattended is fair and true. You should never leave an active grill unattended. You’re playing with fire, after all.
But what does unattended mean?
Is it unattended if you pop into the house for a second? Probably not. You are coming right back.
That being said, you shouldn’t go take a nap while your gas grill is in operation. Nor should you fire up the grill and then go run to the grocery store to pick up the steaks you forgot to buy earlier.
Common sense should reign. Besides, why would you even consider doing either of those things? Gas grills are so easy to start and stop that leaving them on when you don’t have to is just irresponsible and dangerous.
Now let’s take a look at the pros of being attentive to your grill before getting into any of the negatives.
Safety First (And Don’t Be Ridiculous)
It should go without saying, but you have to remember that when you’re dealing with a gas grill, you’re dealing with things that can go BOOM.
Is that likely? Hopefully not.
(After all, you’re putting safety first.)
But putting safety first isn’t all about preventing explosions. It’s also about preventing fires. And bad burns to other people. And ruining your awesome day of grilling by being inattentive to basic safety practices.
Now, sometimes, safety recommendations can feel a bit obvious and ridiculous. Like the warnings about not putting your face on a hot grill. Of course, you’re not going to put your face on a hot grill.
Don’t be ridiculous, right?
Right. But remember, most safety rules exist because, at some point, someone did something ridiculous like stick their face on a hot grill.
Side note: It’s not specifically mentioned you shouldn’t put your face on a hot grill in most safety warnings. Rather, it’s usually something like “WARNING: HOT” and “Don’t wear loose-fitting clothing when you’re grilling.”
Other Safety Items
So, what exactly is meant by safety other than not sticking your face on a hot grill? Well, as mentioned, one thing you want to avoid is wearing loose-fitting clothes. You want to avoid this around any open flame, not just while using a gas grill.
No one wants to ruin their cookout by becoming literally hotter than the grill itself.
Yes, again, there’s a slim possibility you might catch your shirt on fire. But don’t make assumptions either.
You should also avoid wearing any clothes made from material that can melt when exposed to high heat. Polyester is a good example of this. It’s flame resistant but not melt-resistant, especially once temperatures pass 450°F.
But wait, you may be wondering, why would you be wearing a polyester shirt while grilling. It’s hot, it’s clearly cotton t-shirt weather, right?
Yeah, sure. Unless you’re ready to watch your favorite baseball team on a lovely afternoon after grilling some steaks on a 500°F grill. And you just happen to be wearing the authentic jersey of your favorite team while doing it. (Baseball jerseys tend to be made of polyester.)
So, be safe with what you wear around grills.
Other things to consider when it comes to safety include the fact that where there’s heat, there’s the potential for burns. So, you need to keep your head on a swivel if you have kids or pets playing nearby.
Also, because you’re dealing with a controlled fire, you want to ensure your grill is at least 10 feet away from any structure.
So, if you store your grill in the garage or a shed or even under any flammable overhangs, wheel it out. Besides the fire risk, you also want to avoid becoming overwhelmed by fumes and smoke due to improper ventilation.
If it’s windy, try to move the grill to another location where you’re somewhat blocked.
There doesn’t have to be a complete wind barrier. Just a location where you can leave the lid open if needed. However, if that isn’t an option, remember to keep the lid down when not moving food around.
Related: How to Grill When It’s Windy
Oh, and check for leaks on a regular basis. Don’t wait to check right before starting the grill only to find the cylinder is empty because of a leak.
And last but not least, you should always have a fire extinguisher ready. A dry-powder variety would be the best option. It’s the best type of extinguisher for cooking fires. However, if you don’t have one, having some baking soda handy is a useable alternative.
When You Can Leave Your Gas Grill Unattended
“Hey,” you might be saying, “When exactly are you going to get to a time when I can leave my gas grill unattended?”
That’s a good question. And you basically just answered it.
The answer is there is no time you should leave a gas grill unattended if the gas is on and the flame is lit.
Nor would it be a good idea to tell you if there’s a certain acceptable moment to leave your grill, flame going and all, unless it’s simply to run into the house for a literal second.
Yes, a gas grill that isn’t lit is still a gas grill. It’s just not on.
And, of course, it’s okay to leave a secured grill unattended. It’d be kind of weird if you didn’t.
But if it’s active and operating, it must be attended to, even if it’s not you doing it all the time. If you’ve got another adult nearby, it never hurts to say, “Hey, can you watch the grill for a second?”
If you’re alone, gas grills are easy to turn off and re-ignite a few minutes later if you need to leave that badly. No one can predict when Mother Nature will call, but gas grills give you a lot of flexibility when it comes to controlling the flames.
It’s often tempting to leave a gas grill unattended, especially if you grill all the time and become complacent. Remember, though, you’re dealing with fire. It’s fun to grill, but still potentially dangerous. Choose to be safe instead of leaving it alone.