I love grilling, rain or shine.
Sadly, the weather in Florida doesn’t always cooperate – especially in the summer.
If it rains and you’ve planned a barbecue, the next place you’re probably going to think to grill is in your garage.
However, charcoal, gas, and propane grills present huge health risks when used in enclosed spaces.
You want to be safe. No burger is worth you and your family’s safety.
So, is it safe to grill in your garage? Not usually, no.
However, with a little pre-planning and the right equipment, you can grill in your garage safely.
Let’s look at the most important considerations for safe garage grilling.
Choose the Right Type of Grill
Even a small grill or smoker poses a fire-risk when moved into your garage.
Leaving your garage door open doesn’t matter as much as you think.
Grilling in your Garage: Flame Grills
Gas, charcoal, or really anything but electric grills pose significant risks that should rule out grilling indoors.
Not only is there a fire risk, but the flames in traditional grills give off carbon monoxide as a byproduct of the burning process. Even if you have a carbon monoxide detector in your garage, it may not be enough.
You’ve likely heard of a few of the dangers of carbon monoxide. Because the gas is odorless, it’s difficult to detect before reaching dangerous levels.
Where there’s fire, there’s smoke.
In a confined space, that presents a serious risk of smoke inhalation. Inhaling the smoke trapped in your garage can also increase your cancer risk since the smoke contains various carcinogens.
All flame grills come with warnings about the flammable substances they use to create the heat that cooks your food. Whether you use wood, charcoal, gas, or propane, it all comes with a significant fire risk.
Gas grills have an additional potential for explosion if leaked fuel ignites.
Though these risks still exist outdoors, the potential damage is dramatically worse inside any enclosed or partially enclosed area.
Additionally, your garage likely has many flammable items.
Most people store all sorts of highly flammable items, from cardboard to motor oil, in these spaces. Bringing an open flame near these items only amplifies the fire risk.
Finally, in an open-air space like your backyard, all the grease carried by grill smoke dissipates safely. Inside, this grease accumulates on the walls of your garage over time. Grease build-up increases fire hazards and may irreparably damage the items stored inside your garage.
Grilling in Your Garage: Electric Grills
Fortunately, you can avoid moving your flame grill inside and creating these risks. Invest in an electric grill for those inclement days.
Electric grills don’t produce flames to generate cooking heat, so they come with significantly lower risks for indoor grilling.
Electric grills avoid the carbon monoxide risk posed by an open flame. Of course, it’s still crucial to have a ventilation system of some sort in place to remove any smoke if you can’t keep the garage door open.
As an additional benefit, electric grills generally come with nonstick grates that make for much easier cleaning. This feature helps reduce the potential for drippings to ignite and create a fire risk.
Also, electric grills are often compact and lightweight, making them a multi-purpose investment. You can take your electric grill tailgating or even camping.
I must admit that there is a noticeable taste difference between flame-grilled and electric-grilled food.
However, for those occasions when you just can’t stand outdoors, an electric grill is well worth the reduced risk.
Staying Safe with Your Electric Grill
You’re likely familiar with basic safety precautions for flame grills, but you should take certain precautions when electric grilling.
Good Grilling Habits
As with outdoor grilling, it’s crucial to develop safe habits when indoor grilling. Keep these key safety measures in place every time you grill.
Never walk away from your grill, especially when grilling in your garage. The potential for a fire to get out of hand is much higher indoors, even with an electric grill.
Grilling smaller quantities of food, also known as batch grilling, will help prevent flare-ups by minimizing drippings.
Most importantly, clean your electric grill after every use. Keeping your grill clean is the best way to reduce fire risk.
Consider Your Garage Space
When choosing an electric grill, you can’t ignore your garage space. To make your electric grilling as safe as possible, consider the size and placement of your grill inside your garage.
Select an electric grill that won’t be too big for your garage. An appropriately sized grill will help the cooking smoke and fumes vent properly.
Planning where to place your grill is equally important. Make certain that you clear the area of any flammable items and place the grill on an appropriate surface. Think about the path you will walk to reach your grill, too. Remove any obstacles or tripping hazards that might cause injury.
Ensure that you plug your electric grill into a surge-protected outlet without using an extension cord, too. For any heat source, using an extension cord introduces an unnecessary fire risk.
Shut Down Checklist
For garage grilling, think about putting a personal shut-down checklist on the wall near your grill. Looking at this list will help you double-check your process for shutting down your grill.
Accidentally leaving your grill on, whether outside or inside, can cause a fire. My checklist helps me confirm that I have turned my electric grill off and unplugged it as a double precaution.
While I hope you never need to deal with a grill-related fire, preparing for one—just in case—will help you stay safe.
Keep a hand-held fire extinguisher near your grill, away from the heat. Practice using your fire extinguisher, too, so you know how to operate it in a high-stress situation.
If you simply must grill before getting a fire extinguisher, another trick is to keep baking soda nearby to extinguish small flames.
Alternatives to Indoor Grilling
If you’re simply too attached to your wood-burning, charcoal, gas, or propane grill to consider going electric, you do have some alternative options.
Even if you’re willing to sacrifice your own dry clothes for the sake of the hamburgers, if you don’t have a garage, even an electric grill isn’t always an option.
A grill canopy designed to protect you from the rain while still allowing proper ventilation is one of the least expensive options. If you have the time and are okay with spending a bit more, an outdoor kitchen will keep you grilling year-round.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
FAQ 1: Is it safe to grill in a garage with the door open?
Though keeping the door open will help with ventilation, flame grills still present a risk when used inside a garage.
FAQ 2: Is it safe to store a grill in your garage?
Once it is cold and clean, any grill can be stored in your garage to keep it safe from the elements. Make sure your fuel source is stored at a safe temperature away from flammable substances, too.
FAQ 3: Does a propane grill give off carbon monoxide?
Yes. Both charcoal and propane grills produce carbon monoxide.