Sizzle Safely: Protecting Your Home While BBQing

It’s undeniable that barbecuing is a favourite method of cooking during the warmer season, with some even considering it a hobby. The sound of birds chirping. The spicy sizzle of the grill. The mouth-watering smell of burger grease and barbecue sauce. And the—BARBECUE IS ON FIRE! Don’t waste your time putting it out with water… we all know how that one ends. We’ve seen it happen to policyholders one too many times before, and we can promise you that it really does happen that fast. For barbecues, smokers, outdoor kitchens, Kamados, and more, safety precautions apply to each one. Here are the things we recommend doing when the time comes to grill and chill:

1. Choose the proper location.

You’d be surprised how many people put their barbecues in garages, sheds, and outbuildings of some kind. Barbecues—and any outdoor grill—should always be used outside. But aside from cooking outside, there are a few other note-worthy instructions that are crucial to its proper placement:

  • The grill should be placed on a level surface and off the grass. Cement pads, gravel, or paved pathways are the best spots for them.
  • Secondly, it should be a minimum of 3 meters away from your house.
  • A BBQ needs to be placed away from the wall, too. Why? If your BBQ is up against your vinyl siding or plastic railing, it might start a fire or melt away at these features… and that is not the smell you’re aiming for when cooking a delicious meal.
  • Avoid those unintentional backyard bonfires by having your BBQ stay clear of any hazards or obstructions. If there are fire hazards or dry grass areas near it, it’s most likely not the best place to put it.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill when it is in use and keep it in an area where it will not get tipped over or moved too frequently.


2. Equipment and cooking tools.

Barbecue tools are designed specifically for barbecue use for a reason. They are made of materials that are fire-resistant and have long handles. The long handles keep your arms and hands away from the hot grill to prevent burns. One helpful thing we ought to mention is that many barbecuers don’t use heat-resistant mitts. We recommend purchasing a pair of heat-resistant gloves for grilling because they are slip-resistant for handling meat and have long sleeves. The majority of the time, when people are using an outdoor grill, they’re wearing short-sleeve shirts, and burns can happen so much quicker when you’re not wearing sleeved clothing.

A vital piece of equipment for a BBQ is a tarp. Tarps stop your barbecues from weathering and getting damaged. A mistake users make when it comes to using this piece of equipment is tarping their barbecues before they have fully cooled. This can cause your tarp to burn and start a fire, so make sure your grill is not only turned off but cooled completely before packing it away. 

Lastly, make sure your smoke alarms and fire extinguishers are in working order and located on each floor of your home. A survey by Kidde discovered that while most barbecue owners own a fire extinguisher, only 48% keep one within reach while barbecuing. And half of these people didn’t know that disposable fire extinguishers need to be replaced every twelve years at a minimum. Having a smoke alarm and a fire extinguisher if things get a little heated out there can be a lifesaver when it comes to protecting you and your home. Whether you’re cooking on the balcony, in the backyard, or on a rooftop patio, having a smoke alarm on each floor can help notify you if things have gotten out of hand while you go to grab that barbecue sauce from the fridge.

3. Time to cook.

OK, so you’ve got the designated cooking spot, the right tools, and everything else you need to get started. Now what? Well, safety doesn’t stop here. There are still mistakes that go down when people use their barbecues for the first time, or more often, it’s those who grow too comfortable with the appliance that slip up and make the silly mistakes. Let’s go through some of these examples together…

  • Keep open flames, lighters, matches, and easily flammable materials away from the grill. Sounds easy enough? You would be surprised how often a stack of papers, newspapers, magazines, etc., gets left right beside outdoor kitchens, and BOOM! Now you’ve got a crisp lawn and burnt pieces of paper on your steak dinner… yum.
  • Light your barbecue with the lid open. Think of it like a dramatic reveal: lift the lid, let the barbecue breathe, and unveil its propane-powered secrets! Just don't forget this step, unless you're aiming for a surprise firework show in your backyard.
  • Depending on what you like to grill, many foods have excess grease that drains off the grill. Try to catch grease in a can or cup. Many BBQs often come with this feature, but some don’t. 
  • And this might go without saying but always supervise your barbecue when cooking. Never leave it unattended as it only takes a second for a fire to erupt.
BBQing food with tongs

4. Cleaning up.

Yes, the dreaded part. You’ve cooked and enjoyed your meal, and now comes the time to put everything back and tidy up. Can you guess what people forget to do the most? Often, people are so concentrated on serving their guests and enjoying their food that they forget to turn off the propane tank, natural gas, or barbecue. Other than doing this, there are a few other instructions we would like to give to you to prevent losses on your property:

  • Whether it comes with a grease cup or you’re improvising with a soup pot from your grandma’s antique collection, make sure it catches as much as possible and is emptied and cleaned on a regular basis.
  • Make your life a little easier next time by thoroughly cleaning off the grill after each use, especially if you’re using it in the great outdoors. This will stop smells from happening… or unwanted fuzzy guests from checking out where that smell is coming from for themselves.
  • If you have a charcoal BBQ, make sure the charcoal has completely cooled before disposing of it in the trash.

This season, as you revel in the joys of outdoor cooking, remember that your safety is paramount. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and where there’s fire, there’s potential for a backyard barbecue disaster. Let’s face it—accidents happen quicker than you can say “pass the sauce,” and you’ll want to be covered if that happens. The next time you’re shopping for barbecue ingredients, add the right property insurance policy to the list. With Property Insurance from Sandbox, you receive a variety of coverage and deductible options. It’s always better to have coverage and not need it than to need it and… well, you know the rest. So, grill on, and may the flames be ever in your comprehensive insurance coverage—we mean favour—and three meters away from the house.