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Outdoor Grilling: Do it Outdoors!

Posted: 06/30/2008 10:09:34 AM
Tags:  outdoor grilling, grilling safety, gas grills, charcoal grills, grilling


Those of us who live in the northern latitudes and who have suffered through a particularly brutal winter could hardly wait until we were able to fire up the grill for the first time this past spring. Yes, I know it’s possible to use your outdoor grill during the winter months, even in the coldest climates, and many folks in the upper Midwest do just that, but I suspect that a majority of us are not too keen about grilling a steak or flipping a burger outdoors on a breezy January afternoon of minus 10 degrees with a wind chill of 45 below. And, being dressed in a parka, woolen mittens, and snowmobile boots to prevent our bodies from becoming human-size ice blocks, doesn’t make the experience any more pleasant. No, personally, I’d much rather wait until the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the temperature is a balmy 60 degrees (hey, that’s balmy around here!), and the fruits of my grilling labor can be enjoyed outside on the patio.

Okay, perhaps a lot of you are thinking: “During the wintertime, you can always push your grill into the garage and use it in there if you want to feel a bit warmer.” Aha…okay…I know that plenty of people do that very thing, but I wish they wouldn’t, because there’s just one little point that some people forget when they use their grills inside…IT’S DANGEROUS!!! See the following picture?

This is what happened when somebody grilled some chicken inside the garage—and it wasn’t even winter! The garage is around back—you can’t see it in this picture. Besides, the garage was long gone by the time the fire department arrived; however, the homeowner managed to save the chicken. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m not risking my most valuable asset (no, not my house—my LIFE!) just so I can enjoy a lousy grilled chicken leg during the dead of winter.

Yes, some people have grilled inside their garages or garden sheds or storage buildings or barns, or whatever, for many years without any problems, but it only takes one slight mishap to cause a disaster. If your garage is like mine—a ground level extension of the house attic with absolutely no room for a car—there are just too many flammable materials nearby that can go up like tinder. The temperature of most gas grills is high enough to ignite almost anything, and since most garages are full of chemicals, and gasoline for the lawn mower, and scraps of lumber, and so many other combustible materials, it’s best not to risk it.

And, don’t even dare to use your charcoal grill in an enclosed space, especially in a garage. I can hear some of you saying: “But, I always leave the big door open.” Well, HEL-LO! Fire + gasoline stored in the garage, three feet from where you are using your charcoal grill = BOOM! Having the “big door open” isn’t going to make a whole lot of difference when you’ve been suddenly transformed into a charred French fry.

Remember, outdoor grills are supposed to be used—OUTDOORS!—away from combustibles. Just because you don’t live inside your garage doesn’t mean that it counts as an outdoor space. Why not just wheel your grill into the house and get it over with?

Okay, so how’s that for a lecture, or more accurately, a tirade from a person who needed to vent his thoughts about one of his pet peeves? If I’m off base then send a reply and tell me to take a chill pill. Seriously, please be safe when you use your outdoor grill. Outdoor grilling is my favorite method for cooking food because it makes food so flavorful, and I really think it’s one of the safest ways to cook food—when it’s done properly, that is. The next post will include more safety tips to ensure that your summertime outdoor grilling remains an enjoyable experience.

Recipe Tips Blog Moderator

CookingMatters said...
Thank you for your responses, RTMember1929 and jods; your questions are good. Many people use gas grills on covered porches and never have a problem; however, as you will see in my next post, which will list more outdoor grilling safety tips, grilling underneath a roof is not a good idea unless it has been specifically designed for that purpose, using materials that are not flammable. Personally, I would not use my gas grill on a deck, balcony, or unenclosed covered porch; in short, I wouldn’t use it on any structure attached to the house. The only structure near the house that I have ever used for grilling is the patio, and I keep the grill at least ten feet away from the house and anything else that may be flammable. This may seem to be a bit too cautious, but I would rather sacrifice convenience for safety any day. If you are determined to use your grill on the porch, make sure to use a large piece of metal or a fireproof deck protector underneath the grill.
Posted on: 07/01/2008 1:12:17 PM

jods said...
My parents have a covered porch over their deck. They use it year round. They do have the grill on the outer edge of the porch away from the house. Would this still be considered unsafe?
Posted on: 07/01/2008 12:57:49 PM

RTMember1929 said...
This is good to read since I have been cooking in my garage for years. I assume grilling on a covered porch is safe, correct?
Posted on: 07/01/2008 07:24:56 AM

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