Grilling Tips for a Safe Labor Day

As summer fades and the leaves change for fall, Labor Day celebrations bring families together for cookouts and other gatherings. 


Dr. William Lineaweaver, medical director of the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Merit Health Central in Jackson, encourages everyone to have a fun Labor Day and remain safe while celebrating.


Labor Day burn safety starts with grill care. Making sure your grill works and its gas tanks are not leaking are good initial steps. Dr. Lineaweaver recommends checking for leaks by spraying soapy water on gas line connections. If you see water bubbles, there is a leak.  “Grill explosions are often caused when someone checked for a leak by using a match or lighter,” he said. “Do not ever do that.”

In addition: 

  • Create a “safe zone” surrounding the grill, or any area where there’s a burn risk, such as a campfire. 
  • Use grills only in properly ventilated areas, as the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and fires increases if grilling in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
  • Never use an accelerant such as gasoline to light a grill, campfire or debris pile. Gas fumes can ignite and cause a large explosion. 
  • Dispose of hot coals properly: Soak with water, then stir and soak again to make sure the fire is out. 
  • Always shut off the propane tank valve when not in use. 
  • Never try to light a gas grill with the lid closed. 
  • Always wear short sleeves and/or tight-fitting clothing while grilling. 

For those planning to spend the holiday working in the yard, make sure to take extra precautions if you are going to have a burn pile. First, check local guidelines for outdoor burning. Then, make sure you know what is in the pile: A hidden aerosol can cause a huge explosion, and other items can emit toxic fumes when burned. 


Other safety tips include:


  • Don’t use gasoline, lighter fluid, or any other flammable liquid to start the fire.  
  • Always have a hose nearby in case the fire starts getting out of control. Having another option for putting out the fire – like a bucket of sand or a fire extinguisher – nearby is also a good idea.
  • Never park a vehicle on top of a pile of leaves or debris because the heat of the vehicle could ignite the pile.
  • Do not leave a fire unattended or under the supervision of a minor.
  • Make sure the fire is out and all hot coals are extinguished when your work is done.


“Painful burns can be prevented simply by applying a little knowledge and attention,” said Dr. Lineaweaver.
The Joseph M. Still Burn & Reconstruction Center is located at 1850 Chadwick Drive in Jackson. For more information on the state’s only designated burn center, visit

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