It’s evident to everyone that grilling can be dangerous—you have to deal with a fire at high temperatures. Plus, with grills that use propane and natural gas, there are also explosion hazards to consider.
That isn’t to imply that grilling is extremely dangerous. It’s just not an activity that anyone should grow comfortable practicing neglectful behavior. You should always take a firefighter’s #1 piece of advice to heart, and that piece of advice is, “respect the fire.”
Below, we will answer the question whether it’s safe to use a grill against a wall, as well as go over other common safety concerns and best practices to ensure you keep your grilling safe and fun.
Can You Place Your Grill Against a Wall?
Generally, grills should not be used next to walls. This doesn’t include grilling enclosures that wall off grills to help protect them from wind and weather damage.
When it comes to the safest place to grill next to your home, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, along with most professional builders, you should always place your grill no less than 10 feet (ca. 3 metres) away from your home and any other structure.
The ten-foot rule also includes sheds, garages, deck railings, and any other structure that can catch fire. One of the biggest dangers concerns floating embers that can make contact with flammable material.
You should absolutely never grill under a tree under any circumstances. This is one way many forest fires are started, as embers from grills can light up foliage on the ground or in the trees themselves.
More Grilling Safety Tips
Tip #1: Starting Gas Grills
You should avoid starting gas grills with the lid closed whenever possible. Closed lids can lead to a dangerous gas buildup, which can lead to explosions. If you notice that the flame has gone out, turn both the gas and grill off, then wait about five minutes before trying to relight.
Tip #2: Too Much Food
When you try to grill too much food at one time, it can create more flare-ups as fat drips into the flames. Instead, try cooking your food in batches. This way, you won’t overload your grill, especially when cooking fatty meats. Cooking small can also deliver more constant results.
Tip #3: Indoor Grilling
One of the biggest no-nos is using a girl indoors, even if it’s a structure like a garage, since grills release an odorless, colorless gas called carbon monoxide that can build up and become a deadly threat.
Tip #4: Cleaning the Grill
Yes, we know… Cleaning your grill is a pain! We all hate to do it. But, aside from how it can impact the flavor of your food, a dirty grill is also a safety hazard. Built-up grease and gunk will cause more flare-ups and stand-alone fires.
This can result in uneven cooking and flames shooting out of your grill. Too much gunk is like creating burning candles inside your grill, some of which may remain lit without your knowledge after you’ve finished grilling.
Tip #5: Leaving Your Grill Unattended
While you don’t necessarily need to be right on top of your grill, it’s important to be aware of activities going on around your grill.
For example, if you have kids playing a football or basketball game in the area, you need to keep a much closer watch as the danger of accidents increases significantly with children and pets around.
The best rule of thumb is to keep your grill well away from any area where children are playing by relocating their game elsewhere.
Related: Read our thoughts on leaving your gas grill and your charcoal grill unattended
Tip #6: Grilling on Windy and Cold Days
Another hazard is grilling on cold days. Many people tend to bundle up and wear things like scarves or other loose items of clothing. This is an extremely dangerous practice when standing near a grill.
Also, during winding days, it’s best to try to shield your grill from the wind as much as possible. Doing so helps your food grill at even temperatures and protects people from leaping flames.
On cold days, it’s best to allow a bit of extra time to pre-heat your grill while ensuring you check your meat with temperature thermometers as the cooking temperature may fluctuate.
Related: Our best advice on grilling on a windy and on a cold day
Tip #7: Coal Disposal
It’s very important to have a fireproof disposal system set up after you’ve grilled using coals. It’s best to soak the coals in water to cool them down a bit before dumping them in a fireproof metal container.
You can also cover and close the grill vents, which will also help put out the coals by starving the fire of oxygen.
However, you should also have a designated, safe area for storing your hot metal container of coal. Some people create special sandpit areas for this purpose. It’s not recommended that you use your driveway, as the heat can cause structural damage over time.
If you’re using a charcoal chimney, do not store them on concrete. In some cases, the heat from coal can cause certain types of concrete to explode, causing red-hot coals to spill over.
Related: What to Do With the Charcoal After Grilling
Tip #8: Grilling While Intoxicated
While it’s perfectly natural to enjoy a beverage or two while grilling, be careful not to overdo it. The first rule of grilling should always be to respect the fire, which means you should have your full faculties available to monitor and address any issues that may arise.
Intoxicated grillers are often distracted grillers who don’t notice hazardous situations until it’s too late.
Tip #9: Heat Shields
Heat shields are usually used for propane and natural gas grills, and they protect your food from coming in direct contact with the flames. They can also protect the flames from fat and grease drippings which cause flare-ups.
However, over time, heat shields can rust and wear down while building up gunk and becoming thinner in some spots. It’s best to replace grill shields at least once a year or so, depending on how much you grill. Consistent cleaning can also help heat shields last much longer.
Another question people typically ask about is fireproof barriers between their home and their grill.
Even with grilling enclosures made of brick, space between your grill and home is still the safest way to go. You never want to trust any kind of barrier to completely protect your home from a possible fire threat, especially if using natural gas or propane, which can explode.
In short, stay safe, make space, and enjoy your grilling experience.