Barbecue safety

Many Canadians love to barbecue all year-round, but especially when the weather starts to get warm. Find out how to use your barbecue safely.

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Barbecue safety tips

When barbecuing, it is important to follow the manufacturer's instructions. The instructions will tell you how to use, clean and maintain your barbecue.

Before use

If your barbecue has been sitting for a long period of time (over winter), it will need to be checked before use. Look for:

  • blocked burners or metal tubes near the burners
  • damaged or leaking fittings and hoses:
    • use a soapy water solution and check for bubbles
    • if you see bubbles, have the barbecue serviced by an authorized professional and then re-check for leaks
    • replace cracked or damaged hoses even if they are not leaking
  • a damaged seal (check the seal when you get your barbecue tank refilled and check for leaks after re-installing)

Also make sure the barbecue and burners are clean and the briquettes do not have a lot of grease buildup.

When setting up your barbecue, make sure it is:

  • outside and in a well-ventilated area
  • far away from combustible materials and windows and doors
  • on an even surface to reduce the risk of it tipping over

During use

When you use your barbecue, keep the lid open when lighting it. Follow these 3 steps:

  1. open the shut-off valve on your tank to turn on the gas
  2. turn the burner controls on the barbecue to the appropriate position
  3. ignite the barbecue using the igniter switch or other recommended means, making sure not to lean over the barbecue

If the barbecue does not light right away:

  • turn off the gas
  • wait for the gas to go away before re-lighting

Other tips:

  • never leave a lit grill unattended
  • use long-handled cooking utensils and heat-resistant mitts to reduce the risk of burns
  • inspect your barbecue brush and the barbecue grill before each use:
    • The metal bristles on the brush can become loose over time and stick to the grill.
    • The bristles can stick to food and could be accidentally swallowed, possibly causing serious throat or digestive injuries.
    • Replace your brush regularly to help avoid problems associated with wear.
    • Immediately throw your brush away if the bristles come loose or stick to the grill.
    • Alternatives that do not have metal bristles are also available for you to purchase.

After use

After barbecuing:

  • shut off the gas valve.
  • let the gas remaining in the connecting hose burn off.
  • close the burner controls.

If you have a charcoal barbecue, make sure the charcoal has cooled down completely before you get rid of it. This could take several hours.

Common barbecue fuels

There are some things you should know about the fuel you use for your barbecue:

  • propane and natural gas are odourless. For safety reasons, a "rotten eggs" smell is added before the gas is sold.
  • barbecues may produce carbon monoxide when used. Carbon monoxide is a harmful gas that has no colour, smell or taste. It can cause serious health problems or death if inhaled. That is why it is important to use your barbecue outdoors, in a well-ventilated area.
  • propane gas is heavier than air. Propane that leaks from a barbecue may remain in the lower cabinet or other low lying areas. If the rotten egg smell is gone, the gas has likely gone away.
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