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Safety and Cooking Tips for Outdoor Gas Grills

This article has been reprinted courtesy of the Propane Education & Research Council.

Weber portable gas grillThe sounds, smells, and sizzle of summer are back... and it's about time. Few things are as enjoyable during summer months as outdoor grilling, and nothing heats a grill like clean, reliable propane.

Propane gas grills are equipped with convenient on/off switches, allowing propane grills to heat up and cool down quicker than charcoal. Propane is a clean burning energy and, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, it releases 105 times less carbon monoxide than charcoal.  Plus, propane grill owners have discovered that the distinct flavor of barbecued food does not come from charcoal.  It is instead created when meat juices drop down onto a hot surface and then vaporize back onto the meat.

"Grilling with propane is a wonderful way to cook outdoors," says Rick Browne, host of PBS Television's "Barbecue America" and author of Grilling America.  "Propane grills heat up fast so you can get your food on the grill quickly and you are able to manage precise temperatures providing you the flexibility to prepare a variety of dishes."

Below are a few safety and cooking tips from the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) that will help make your backyard barbecues a hit:

Safety Tips

  • Before connecting or lighting a propane gas grill burner, use a leak-detection solution to check all connections for tightness. Do not use matches or lighters to check for leaks.  Contact a local propane gas supplier to obtain the leak-detection solution and instructions on how to use it.
  • Always use or store cylinders outdoors in an upright (vertical) position.
  • When the propane cylinder is refilled, have the supplier check for dents, damage, rust, or leaks.
  • After filling or exchanging a cylinder, take it home immediately.  Keep the vehicle ventilated and keep the cylinder valve closed and plugged or capped in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. Transport the cylinder in a vertical, secured position.
  • Do not smoke while handling the propane cylinder.
  • Gas grill on fireIf there is an uncontrollable release of gas or a fire, call the fire department immediately, and move all people and pets away from the unit.
  • Do not allow children to tamper or play with the cylinder or grill.
  • Do not use, store, or transport a cylinder where it would be exposed to high temperatures. (This includes storing spare cylinders under or near the grill.)
  • When a grill is not in use, cover disconnected hose-end fittings with small plastic bags, or protective fitting caps from a propane supplier to keep out dirt, insects, and moisture.  Remember to remove them before starting your grill.
  • When not in use, grill burner controls should be turned off and the cylinder valve closed (NOTE:  Valves should be turned clockwise to close.).
  • When lighting your grill, make sure the grill top is open. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Always follow the grill manufacturer's instructions and keep written materials and manuals in a safe, accessible place.

Various states across the country have adopted National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) regulations requiring that all small propane cylinders (4-40 lbs.) be equipped with an Overfilling Prevention Device (OPD) by April 1, 2002. Propane cylinders manufactured after October 1998 already contain OPDs and are available in all 50 states.  PERC recommends that consumers check their propane cylinders for OPDs. For additional information on OPDs, visit the NFPA's website at or the National Propane Gas Association's website at

Cooking Tips

  • Barbecue vegetables on a "barbecue grate” on top of the grill, that way veggies don't fall into the flames.
  • So food won't stick to the grill surface, dip a 2"x 2" folded-up paper towel in olive oil and rub over the grate before turning on your grill.
  • Despite their being called "rubs", it is recommended to gently pat rubs onto the meat or poultry.
  • To prevent salmonella poisoning, always boil leftover marinade in a saucepan for 12 minutes before reusing it as a baste for meat, fish or poultry.
  • For the perfect steak, let it rest for 3-4 minutes before serving, so juices can flow from the center of the meat back to the exterior.
  • Instead of an expensive grill brush, use a "wadded-up" piece of aluminum foil, held in tongs, to clean a dirty grill.
  • Use tongs to lift and turn meat.  Using a fork pierces the meat and lets precious juices escape.
  • Never put on BBQ sauce until the last 10-15 minutes of barbecue time.  The sugars in the sauce burn easily and produce a black, unappetizing crust on the food.
  • Be safe and use a meat thermometer on EVERYTHING you barbecue and always clean cutting boards, knives, or anything else that touches raw poultry, fish or meat, before using them to cut other food items.
  • Be sure to keep the lid of the grill closed.  Every time the lid of the grill is raised, 15 minutes of cooking time is lost.

This article has been reprinted courtesy of the Propane Education & Research Council, whose purpose is to promote the safe, efficient use of propane.

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