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If you have a barbeque phobia and find it hard to enjoy an outdoor cookout, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. While it may seem un-American, it’s important to identify where the feelings of fear stem from and to overcome them by following some simple safety rules.
Many people often ask me: Is it safe to use a gas grill on a wood deck? So I decided to answer this question in my post today. The answer is yes! As long as you do not allow the hot part of the grill to touch the wood. The same cannot be said about a charcoal grill because it’s a complete no-no on a wood deck.
While a patio made from concrete or brick is ideal if you plan to barbeque often, a wood deck is fine as long as you use a gas grill with all precautions. You must also ensure that the site is well-leveled and the grill has a lock or block on the wheels so that it cannot travel on its own.
Unlike a charcoal grill, there are no burning coals in a gas grill that can fall on the wooden floor and start a fire. There is also no need to use chemical fire starters that can be hazardous in this scenario. In gas grills, there’s still the risk of propane and flammable objects but with proper safety, there’s less to worry about.
Having said that, it can’t be ignored that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported an average of 16,600 cases (between 2012 and 2016) where people were admitted to emergency due to grill-related injuries. Can we still say grilling on a wood deck is safe?
Yes, of course. If you plan to host an outdoor cookout, you need to prepare in advance. Be aware that wood and fire don’t get along well so if you have a wooden deck, there are some precautions you need to take beforehand. We will discuss them below.
Use a grill mat
We strongly suggest that you use a good quality grill mat like this to protect your wood deck or patio from getting any sparks on it. This also prevents the food juices, grease, and sauces from causing stains on the wood. The mats are easily available online and they come in different shapes and sizes.
When you are shopping for a grill mat, don’t go bargain hunting as it’s not a good idea to look for cheaper products. This can compromise your safety and also not be as effective in protecting your wood deck.
You will need to find a mat that is heavy enough to not get blown around by the wind and large enough to cover your whole grill area plus a few extra inches around every side. For more safety, you may look for a mat that is fire resistant as this can prevent any spread of flames.
Keep away all flammable objects
This may seem very obvious, but it is an essential precaution to take before you light up a grill, and many people neglect this important point. You should be careful about moving away any flammable objects from the grill when you are using it.
While storing a grill against a wall may be safe when it is not in use, you should be careful about not having any flammable object within a 3-foot radius when the grill is lighted. This includes plants too.
Have a fire extinguisher at hand
No matter how experienced or professional a grill master you are, even the best grillers occasionally have to put out an unruly flame. When you are grilling on a wooden deck, the risk multiplies and becomes much more.
You must make sure that you have a fully charged fire extinguisher near you to prevent the flames from travelling if there is a fire breakout. In the absence of a fire extinguisher, you may use baking powder as a quick substitute.
Baking powder is usually readily available in all kitchens. You just need to sprinkle some on the flames to put them out quickly. Don’t use water as it only increases a grease fire. Fire extinguishers are crucial to prevent any severe damage.
Two-zone cooking is safer
We suggest using a two-zone indirect cooking method to prevent any flare-ups while grilling. In this method of cooking, the grills are set up with two different sides – hot and cold areas. So, if a flare-up occurs then you can quickly move the meat to the cooler area.
This will avoid any further fat dripping on the flames and thus control the flare-ups. After moving the meat to a cooler area, you can put the lid back on the grill and wait for some time until the flare-up goes down.
Take the weather into account
If you are grilling on an uncovered patio on a rainy day, you may be vulnerable to a fire breakout. You should also avoid grilling on very windy days as this can make the flames unruly. While this poses less risk for gas grills, grilling on a charcoal grill on a windy day can turn out to be extremely hazardous.
Clean the grill regularly
Similar to any cooking utensils, gas grills also require regular cleaning, especially after each use to prevent the spread of bacteria. This is also helpful in removing flammable grease buildup, which is one of the main causes of grill fire breakouts.
To reduce the amount of cleaning, you will need to keep a water pan or drip pan under the food. This pan will catch a lot of flammable greases that may otherwise build up in the grill.
How can we protect the wood deck railings?
The best way of protecting the wood deck railing from the gas grill accident is by covering it with a wool or welding blanket. This will provide good protection from flames and heat. After the grill cools down, fold the blanket and store it away.
How far should a gas grill be from your home?
Whether you use a gas or charcoal grill, make sure that the appliance is kept at least 10 feet away from the home, garage, structures, and wood railings. You should also maintain a safe distance from the grill to stay safe.