CPSC Helps Make Grills Safer

July 04, 2001
Release Number: 01185

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) helped industry develop a new safety standard to prevent over-filling of propane gas tanks. This standard will help prevent propane leaks that can cause fires and explosions.

Propane gas is highly flammable. Each year, about 600 fires/explosions occur with gas grills resulting in injuries to about 30 people. The new safety standard for propane gas tanks requires that an "over-fill prevention device" be installed in new gas tanks. The new propane gas tanks have valve handles with three "lobes" (prongs) while older tanks have valve handles with five prongs. People with older propane gas tanks should trade them in for the new, safer tanks.

A different industry standard (adopted in 1995 at the urging of CPSC) provided for several safety features in the gas grills, hoses, and connections. The safety standard called for a device to limit the flow of gas if the hose ruptures; a mechanism to shut-off the grill if it overheats; and a device to prevent the flow of gas if the connection between tank and grill is not leak-proof. People who have grills that do not meet the 1995 standard should either get a new grill or be especially attentive to the safety tips below.

"CPSC pushed for these safety standards to help prevent deaths and injuries," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "Now families can use their gas grills with greater safety."

Gas Grill Safety Tips

Here are some safety tips to reduce the risk of fire or explosion with gas grills:

- 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.

- Always keep propane gas containers upright.

- Never store a spare gas container under or near the grill or indoors.

- Never store or use flammable liquids, like gasoline, near the grill.

- Never keep a filled container in a hot car or car trunk. Heat will cause the gas pressure to increase, which may open the relief valve and allow gas to escape.

Charcoal Grill Safety Tips

Charcoal produces carbon monoxide (CO) when it is burned. CO is a colorless, odorless gas that can accumulate to toxic levels in closed environments. Each year about 19 people die as a result of CO fumes from charcoal being burned inside. To reduce the risk of CO poisoning:

- 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 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 of grills inside a home, tent, and vehicle. The drawings are enclosed in a circle with an "X" through it.