3 Grilling Dangers That May Surprise You

By Nancy B
May 04, 2022

Summer is common for grilling, especially for National Barbecue Month in May. May is National Barbecue Month, just in time for Memorial Day celebrations across backyards in the Commonwealth. It's an especially good time to avoid the emergency room, so let's grill safely!

You probably have a solid knowledge of basic safety practices if you’re the designated family griller. As most of us know, keeping kids and pets away from the grill and using it outdoors to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning is important. But when you've been insuring Virginia homes since 1896, you can imagine we've seen our share of grilling catastrophes. Here are three lesser-known grilling dangers and how to thwart them! 

The Ticking Time Bomb

Picture this: you bend over to light your grill like a thousand times before and – BOOM! – there’s a sudden burst of flames engulfing the front of your body. It sounds extreme, but according to the National Fire Prevention Association, in 2014-2018, an average of 19,700 patients per year went to emergency rooms because of injuries involving grills. This is often due to the common mistake grillers make of turning the propane on and lighting the grill with the lid shut, allowing a dangerous buildup of flammable gas. Always open the lid before you light the grill, and don’t just keep hitting that igniter switch if it doesn’t light the first time. Turn the gas off and wait 5 minutes with the grill lid open before trying again.




But another not-so-commonly known cause of explosive grill fires is a slow gas buildup from damaged or loose propane hoses. This leaky danger can sneak up on the most careful homeowner. It’s good to replace your hoses annually and routinely check and tighten all the connectors. 

How to Check Your Grill for Gas Leaks 

This video outlines how to check your grill for gas leaks. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!



The Expired Grill Tool

When was the last time you replaced your grill cleaning brush? You may be shocked to know that over 1,600 reported visits to the emergency room from 2002-to 2014 were due to stainless steel or brass wire-bristle grill brush injuries. Loose bristles from old overused brushes tend to fall off during grill cleaning and end up in the food that’s being grilled, resulting in mouth, throat, and even abdominal injuries.

I went out and took a picture of my wire grill brush just for this post, and as you can see … guilty as charged! I had no idea mine was in such bad shape.


To prevent this, buy a nylon grill brush and never scrimp on the quality of your grilling tools. Know when to say goodbye or replace your grill brush once a year. 


Here's the warning I noticed on a new grill brush:

The Siding Melter

Surprisingly, we’ve seen recommendations that say you only need 3 feet between your grill and your house. Perhaps that’s why NFPA reports an average of 10,600 home grill fires yearly. The two leading reasons? Grills left unattended or placed too close to something flammable. We certainly see our share of scary home insurance claims for this very reason. And as you can see from one of our claims, they don't have to catch fire to cause costly damage.




We agree with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which recommends using your grill 10 feet or more from any dwelling, including your deck rail, house eaves, and overhanging tree branches. And keep close to your grill when you're cooking. Your food will turn out a lot better as well!

The same rules apply if you like to grill with charcoal, with one crucial caveat. Justin, our home claim expert, reminds us that it’s super important to keep cooling briquettes away from flammables and never dispose of them until they are completely cooled- after about 48 hours- and in a non-flammable container. 


What Does Home Insurance Cover?

The good news is that you are protected against accidental grilling mishaps under your NNINS homeowners insurance or renters policy. It covers damage to your home and other personal property like patio furniture, sheds, and decks. That’s why it’s essential to keep your policy up-to-date by letting your independent agent know when you build or purchase something for the exterior of your home and include them in your home inventory.

Your policy may also cover the medical expenses of a guest injured from a grill fire under the liability portion of your home insurance policy.

So, give your grill a good once-over before you fire it up! Why not keep a fire extinguisher close at hand? Class B, ABC, or K fire extinguishers work well for grease fires. That's extra peace of mind, along with following our tips to avoid a grilling mishap. We want you and your family to stay safe and sound this summer.



Want to learn more about NNINS’ homeowners insurance policy? Get a quote today