According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, national losses involving barbecuing amount to approximately 5,000 injuries annually. When you barbecue food, you may be enhancing its flavor, but you're literally playing with fire. Being careless could mean serious injury.


A review of barbecuing mishaps shows a variety of factors contribute to the typical mishap. Identifying such hazards as using gasoline to light the grill, using lighter fluid on hot coals, grilling in an unvented area, children playing too close to the grill, grilling with loose fitting clothing and leaving the grill unattended are some steps of risk assessment and risk management process to eliminate barbecuing mishaps.


The following examples are typical of mishap reports received at the Naval Safety Center:

  • AN went to light the gas grill with the propane valve leaking. He put in a hand-held gas igniter to light the grill. The accumulated gas from the leaking valve ignited, flaring up three and a half feet. He suffered burns to his face.
  • Attempting to restart the grill, a BT2 sprayed lighter fluid onto the hot coals. The flames rushed up and ignited the container. The container exploded in his hands causing third degree burns. The damage from the burns was enough to require skin graft surgery.


Assessing the risks along with making risk decisions and implementing controls to eliminate barbecuing mishaps are as follows: 

Cooking On Charcoal Grills

  • Place grill in well-ventilated area and away from children's play area.
  • Wear tight fitting clothing. 
  • Stand up wind when lighting the fire. 
  • Do not use flammable liquids to start the fire or to relight the coals.
  • Be in attendance at all times. 
  • Before disposing coals, make sure they are cold.

Cooking With Propane Grills

  • Place grill in well-ventilated area and away from children's play area.
  • Check valves and hoses for leaking gas.
  • Read manufacturer's instructions when lighting grill.
  • Raise hood before turning on gas.
  • Transport and store gas cylinders in an upright position.