Spring and summer are prime barbecue seasons, when we like to gather with friends and family for an outdoor cookout.


While grills and fire pits are a great way to cook delicious food and have fun, they can also pose fire hazards. Follow these important safety tips from the experts at ServiceMaster Restore to prevent injury or damage, and have a fun and safe BBQ season.


General Grill Safety

Whether you use a gas or charcoal grill, follow these basic safety tips to reduce risk of fire or injury.


  • Set your grill up a safe distance away from building structures and overhangs, including your home, shed, garage, trees, and other potentially flammable areas or objects.
  • Never use your grill indoors, inside a tent or under an outdoor awning or carport. Doing so is a serious fire hazard, and if you’re using a gas grill, it can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Light your gas or charcoal grill using long-length lighters or matches. Keep all ignition sources out of the reach of children.
  • Keep a bucket of water, garden hose or fire extinguisher close by, so you can respond immediately to any potential hazards.
  • Never leave an active grill unattended, and let your grill fully cool before you cover or store it.
  • Clean your grill often and thoroughly to reduce flammable buildup of grease and food residue.
  • Consider setting up a screen or cover around your grill. This can prevent stray sparks from potentially injuring people or causing fires.


Charcoal Grills

Many people swear by the taste of food cooked on a classic charcoal grill, but charcoal also poses unique fire risks. Keep these important safety tips in mind when using a charcoal grill.


  • Add only enough charcoal to cover the bottom of the grill; don’t pile too much inside because doing so can cause ashes and sparks to become airborne and land on nearby flammable foliage or objects.
  • Store extra charcoal in a secure place, away from other potential fire hazards, and preferably in an airtight metal container.
  • Only use starter fluid specifically designed for charcoal. Apply it to cold coals only, and do not add extra fluid once the charcoal is lit. Otherwise, the flames could get too high, resulting in burns or an uncontained fire.
  • Empty your used ashes only when they have fully cooled—preferably overnight. Never store or dispose of them in a garbage can or leave them exposed. It’s best to dump them on garden soil or contain them in a metal receptacle for proper disposal.


Gas Grills

Gas grills are convenient and easy to use and require less refueling than charcoal grills. But they are also susceptible to fire risk. Remember these safety tips when using a gas grill.


  • Open the lid before lighting the grill. This allows oxygen to escape and reduces the risk of fire or explosion.
  • Check the gas line and tank fittings regularly for leaks. You can do this by brushing soapy water around these areas. If you see bubbles emerge, there could be a leak somewhere. Replace any damaged/leaking parts and make any other needed repairs before using the grill.
  • Never store spare gas cylinders under a stairway or the eaves of your home. Place them upright and outside, away from any structures to minimize fire risk.
  • Turn off your grill using the controls first, then close off the gas line at the tank. This helps to ensure excess gas can escape safely.


Fire Pits

Cooking food in open fire pits outdoors is fun and can yield delicious results. But it also poses significant hazards because fires can quickly spread from high flames and flying sparks. Follow these guidelines when doing open fire pit cooking.


  • The number one rule of grilling safety is to keep your fire away from surrounding buildings, trees, and other items that could catch fire—and this is particularly true of open fire pit grilling. Avoid accidents by setting up your fire pit in a wide, open space that's far away from flammable objects and materials.
  • Ensure there are no fire bans in your area before you consider an outdoor fire pit. 
  • To help prevent accidents, we recommend keeping your fire pit at least 3 metres (10 feet) from flammable objects. Leave enough room for guests to walk around the flames or sit comfortably and safely away from the fire.
  • Never use gasoline or lighter fluid. These accelerants may yield immediate results, but they pose serious fire risk. Adding them onto an already burning fire can cause explosions, and a spill outside the pit could cause an uncontrollable fire. To keep safe, use dry wood as kindling, for a steady, controlled burn.
  • Make sure everyone attending keeps a safe distance away from the fire pit at all times. Pay extra attention to the whereabouts of children and pets.


Outdoor dinners and nights spent around a fire is one of the enjoyable pleasures of seasonable weather. By following these safety tips, you can help keep your BBQ season full of happy and delicious memories.


If you do experience a fire during BBQ season, the professionals at ServiceMaster Restore are available 24/7/365 to respond and restore your property from fire, water or smoke damage. We hope you never need to make that call but if you do, you can have peace of mind knowing we’re here to assist you.