You can't beat the taste of a perfectly grilled burger. Breaking out the grill is one of the best signs of warmer weather, but your backyard cookout can turn dangerous if you don't practice grill safety. Whether you're constructing a built-in grill as part of an outdoor kitchen or positioning a portable grill, having a safe distance between the grill and other structures is essential.
Grill Distance From Any Structure
All types of grills, including charcoal and gas grills, need to be placed at least 10 feet from any structure. This includes your home, garage, decks, fences, sheds, trees, shrubs, and anything else in your yard. Don't forget to look up when checking for a 10-foot clearance. You also shouldn't put your grill within 10 feet of an overhang, such as a roof over a deck, a second-story balcony, or overhead power lines. Even combustible landscaping, like wood mulch, should be considered when finding a spot 10 feet from everything.
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Check Local Regulations
Local ordinances might specify the distance you need to keep between your grill and any structures in the area. They sometimes have different regulations for built-in grills versus portable grills, so check on the codes before building an outdoor kitchen with a grill.
It's also a good idea to check with your homeowners' association or property management company, especially if you live in an apartment or condo. Some multifamily dwellings prohibit grills of all types, while others might ban certain types of grills, like charcoal grills. They might also designate certain areas where you can and can't use a grill.
Where to Place a Grill
All grills should be used outdoors due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and fires. Scout out spots that fit the 10-foot distance guideline. The ground should be level to keep the grill from tipping while you use it. An ideal spot is on a concrete pad that can handle the heat or a dropped ember from a charcoal grill.
Other Grilling Safety Tips
Whenever you grill, keep a fire extinguisher or source of water, such as a garden hose, within reach. This makes it easier to extinguish a fire quickly if you have a grilling incident. Additional grilling safety tips include:
- Cool your grill: Make sure your gas or charcoal grill is cool and the charcoal is extinguished before moving the grill.
- Clean the grill: Clean off the grill after every use to prevent grease and food remnants from building up. This helps reduce the risk of flare-ups that can cause burns or fires.
- Stay with the grill: Never walk away from the grill while you're using it, even to run inside to grab something. It only takes a few seconds for the grill to tip or a fire to start.
- Keep kids and pets away: Make sure kids and animals stay at least 3 feet away from the grill and propane tank. Keeping them inside the house while you grill is even better.
- Use gas with caution: If you have a gas grill, open the lid before you light the burners and make sure you turn off the burners completely and shut off the propane cylinder when you're finished. If you notice a strong gas smell, there could be a leak that needs to be repaired.