Gas Barbecue Safety

The following article was provided by Technical Standards and Safety Authority

Summertime is the prime season for campers, cottagers and backyard barbecue enthusiasts using gas-burning barbecues for outdoor cooking. It's also the time to practice safety when using these appliances. The Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) is advising the public that the careless use of gas barbecues can be a serious hazard.

TSSA, an independent, not-for-profit organization responsible for regulating fuels safety in Ontario, says that every year, propane and natural gas barbecue fires and explosions occur as a result of a lack of maintenance and improper lighting techniques.

"The majority of these accidents involved a leak of some kind and could have been prevented with a simple check using a soap and water solution," says Ken Taylor, Vice-President of TSSA's Fuels Safety Division.

To test for leaks:

Keep a plastic bottle or jar of the soap and water solution near the barbecue so you will remember to check for leaks on a regular basis. This simple test is well worth it when you consider that a minor leak in a propane barbecue fuel hose can cause a burst of flames if ignited.

Some leaks are simply the result of loose connections. Tighten the cylinder connection till it is snug but not too tight. Replace any worn or missing "O" rings (a small, rubber-like washer that fits into a groove in front of the threaded connection between the regulator and the cylinder valve).

Burners on barbecues that have not been used recently should also be checked for blockages and cleaned. When burners are blocked, gas can backup and cause a fire at the control panel. Burners that are in bad condition (ie. Corroded) should be replaced. Spiders and other insects like to nest in the openings to burners and can clog the system.

If you are uncomfortable with performing these safety repairs yourself, please contact a certified fuel-appliance repairer.

Improper lighting techniques are another concern. Never light a propane barbecue with the lid closed. The build up of propane gas and air could blow the lid off and cause personal injury.

Your barbecue must also be positioned well away from windows and flammable surfaces.

A propane barbecue must only be used outdoors. If you take your barbecue in for storage, remove the cylinder and store it outside. It is against the law to store a propane cylinder which contains or has contained propane indoors.

Visit our website, TSSAOnline at for more information on propane safety.

Have a safe barbecue season! 

This article was taken from page 18 of NOTO's "The Outfitter" publication, July/August 1998 Issue


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