CPSC Advises Consumers on Tips to Avoid Deadly Grilling Dangers

May 19, 1998
Release Number: 98113

As consumers get ready to fire up their grills this Memorial Day weekend, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is releasing safety tips for using gas or charcoal grills.

Charcoal Grill Safety Tips
Each year, there are about 20 deaths from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and about 400 emergency room treated injuries from CO poisoning resulting from charcoal grills. Charcoal produces CO when burned. CO is a colorless, odorless gas that can accumulate to toxic levels in closed environments. To reduce these CO poisonings, CPSC is offering the following safety tips:

-- Never burn charcoal inside of homes, vehicles, tents, or campers. Charcoal should never be used indoors, even if ventilation is provided.

-- Since charcoal produces CO fumes until the charcoal is completely extinguished, do not store the grill indoors with freshly used coals.

In April 1996, CPSC revised the label on charcoal packaging to more explicitly warn consumers of the deadly CO gas that is released when charcoal is burned in a closed environment. The new label reads, "WARNING...CARBON MONOXIDE HAZARD...Burning charcoal inside can kill you. It gives off carbon monoxide, which has no odor. NEVER burn charcoal inside homes, vehicles or tents." The new label also conveys the written warning visually with drawings. The new label requirement became mandatory on all packages of charcoal filled on or after November 1997.

Gas Grill Safety Tips
Liquid petroleum (LP) gas or propane, used in gas grills, is extremely flammable. Each year more than 500 fires occur when people use gas grills and about 20 people are injured as a result of gas grill fires and explosions. Many of these fires and explosions occur when consumers first use a grill that has been left idle for a period of time or just after refilling and reattaching the grill's gas container. To reduce the risk of fire or explosion, consumers should:

-- Check the tubes that lead into the burner for any blockage from insects, spiders, or food grease. Use a pipe cleaner or wire to clear blockage and push it through to the main part of the burner.

-- Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing.

-- Move gas hoses as far away as possible from hot surfaces and dripping hot grease. If you can't move the hoses, install a heat shield to protect them.

-- Replace scratched or nicked connectors, which can eventually leak gas.

-- Check for gas leaks, following the manufacturer's instructions, if you smell gas or when you reconnect the grill to the LP gas container. If you detect a leak, immediately turn off the gas at the tank and don't attempt to light the grill until the leak is fixed.

-- Keep lighted cigarettes, matches, or open flames away from a leaking grill.

-- Never use a grill indoors. Use the grill at least 10 feet away from any building. Do not use the grill in a garage, carport, porch, or under a surface that can catch fire.

-- Never attempt to repair the tank valve or the appliance yourself. See an LP gas dealer or a qualified appliance repair person.

-- Always follow the manufacturer's instructions that accompany the grill.


Consumers should use caution when storing LP gas containers. Always keep containers upright. Never store a spare gas container under or near the grill. Never store a full container indoors. Never store or use flammable liquids, like gasoline, near the grill.

To avoid accidents while transporting LP gas containers, consumers should transport the container in a secure, upright position. Never keep a filled container in a hot car or car trunk. Heat will cause the gas pressure to increase, causing the relief valve to open and allowing gas to escape.

Consumers should use extreme caution and always follow manufacturer's instructions when connecting or disconnecting LP gas containers.

CPSC worked with the industry to develop a new voluntary standard to prevent LP gas leaks. Grills meeting this standard will shut themselves off if a gas leak occurs.