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Waddles’ Safe Grilling Tips

Published on Jun. 21, 2022

waddles the penguin grilling outside

Grilling outdoors is one of summer’s simple pleasures, whether you’re cooking up hot dogs, burgers and steak, or your favorite veggies or side dish. But on average, close to 20,000 people nationwide visit emergency departments each year because of injuries involving grills and nearly half (48%) of those injuries are thermal burns from both fire and contact with hot objects. In addition, an average of 10,600 home fires are started each year by grills.

a comparison of a grill placed on a level surface (good) versus a grill on a slope (bad)So how can you enjoy grilling and stay safe? Our feathered friend Waddles, Munson Healthcare’s safety ambassador, has a few tips to share – with assistance from the National Fire Protection Association, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Grill Safety

  • Propane and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors.
  • Place your grill at least 10 feet away from your house or any outdoor structure.
  • Make sure your grill is on a flat, level surface.
  • Since you’ll likely be making trips back and forth to your kitchen indoors, ensure the area around your grill is clean and there are no tripping hazards. Waddles has lots of tips on how to avoid slips, trips, and falls!
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
  • Wear appropriate clothing – articles that have long sleeves or pieces that dangle can catch fire easily when too close to an open flame.

Charcoal Grill Safety



Use only approved charcoal starter fluid – and the correct amount.

Use gasoline when starting a charcoal fire – it will explode!

Use long-handled grilling tools and avoid holding alcoholic beverages.

Add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire. Doing so can ignite large flames and endanger you and any nearby people and pets.

Cap the starter fluid immediately after using it and store it at safe distance from the grill.

Keep starter fluid out of the reach of children and pets.

After grilling: let the coals cool completely before disposing in a metal container.

Dump hot coals in the garbage.

Gas Grill Safety



Inspect the hoses on a gas grill for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing and that all connections are secure. Replace if necessary.

Use your grill if you see any weakness or exposed spots in hoses or tubing.

Check for propane gas leaks. Open the gas supply valve fully and apply a soapy solution with a brush at the connection point.

Use your grill if bubbles appear during your spot check. First, try tightening the tank connection. If that doesn’t stop the leak, close the gas valve and have the grill repaired by a qualified professional.

Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.

Cook on a soiled grill that hasn’t been cleaned. This increases your risk of flare-ups and grease fires.

And don’t forget the grease trap!

Healthy Grilling

Now that your grill is safe, Waddles wanted to share some food safety tips as well!

1illustration of a thermometer taking the temperature of meat on the grill. Start clean. Don’t let the charred build up from your last meal ruin your next!

2. If you’re grilling meat, keep a meat thermometer on hand to check the internal temperature of your meat. The thermometer is the best indication of its “doneness”. Use this handy list to know what your temperature gauge should reach:

  • Beef, pork, lamb, and veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145°F (with a 3-minute rest time)
  • Ground meats (including burgers and hot dogs): 160°F
  • Whole poultry, poultry breasts, and ground poultry: 165°F
  • Fish: 145°F

3. If you’re grilling veggies, fruit, or pizza, work carefully to prevent cross contamination with raw meats and cooked foods or food that requires less heat.

4. Place grilled foods on clean plates, not the ones that held them when they were raw.

5. Enjoy!

Burn Injury? Know Where to Go.

If you become injured from a gas or charcoal grill, address it right away. For minor burns, treat at home or call your primary care provider. If you have a severe burn, consider finding an urgent or walk-in clinic nearby.

Not Sure? Ask-a-Nurse

If you do receive a burn and you’re unsure where to seek care, call Munson Healthcare Ask-A-Nurse at 231-935-0951. A registered nurse will address your symptoms at no charge and help direct you to the right place. Our nursing team is here for you 24 hours a day.

Ask-A-Nurse   231-935-0951