Many cooks prefer to cook on gas. It may be that gas is more easily controlled because you can see how big the flames are, it may be because the flames cover the whole bottom of the pan without hot spots.
Natural gas (methane) has no carbon monoxide and is therefore not poisonous. It is also lighter than air, and will float away given a chance. Other fuel gasses (butane, propane, ethane…) are heavier than air and could conceivably cause asphyxiation if they leaked in a confined space.
Just to be fair, any kind of cooking can have risks. Electricity can kill if abused, open fires can spread, BBQ grills can fall over… But used properly, gas is not harmful.
- Food safety – Handling your food properly is just as important as properly handling and operating your barbecue equipment. Did you know that bacteria develop at any temperature above freezing? Keep food chilled until it goes onto the grill and serve immediately. Food poisoning is easy to avoid if you follow three easy rules: keep food chilled and covered until ready to cook, and then eat it while it’s still warm.
- Alcohol safety – Grilling often means an ice cold beer or cocktails. Remember to drink responsibly while grilling. Keeping a clear head is a great way to avoid accidents.
- Keep it clean – Don’t let grease build up in your grill. It can cause flare-ups while you’re hovering over the grill. Just a few cookouts can accumulate a surprising amount of grease. At the start of the season, check that insects or other debris haven’t created obstructions for the fuel flow.
- Maintain a distance – Your grill should be placed at a safe distance from your house or anything else that could catch fire, including trees. All manuals will provide this elementary safety information.
- LPG – Propane safety: Every year the first thing you should do is throughly inspect your grill for problems, and then do periodic inspections throughout the season. The most common cause is an obstruction in the fuel path. Be sure to check the major connection points: tank hose, regulator and cylinder. Tighten if loose. Check the hose for potential leaks (how? purchase a leak detection solution or spray a bit of soapy water along the hose and connections and then check for visible bubbles that form due to a leak).
- Limit charring and smoke: While LPG – Propane grills emit much less CO2 than charcoal fuel, the excessive charring of foods and inhaling of the smoke from burning grease are both health hazards. Enjoy the wonderful smell of cooking food from a distance and prefer marinated foods which reduce the toxic charring during grilling.
- Follow Instructions – Seems pretty obvious, but manuals do get misplaced and basic safety rules are easily forgotten from one year to the next. Also, a new grill won’t operate exactly like your last one. Contact the manufacturer’s website to download a manual if you’ve lost the original.
- Fire extinguisher – every home should have one and during barbecue season, it’s essential that a fire extinguisher be close at hand. Prepare yourself and family members on basic first aid and protocol in case of a fire: cut the fuel supply, extinguish the fire, call the fire department if necessary.
- Stay put – Never leave your grill unattended. This not only guarantees safe operation, it also guarantees that children and pets be kept at a safe distance from the grill area.
- Keep your nose on alert – the minute you smell gas, turn off both the grill controls and the tank’s valve. If you continue to smell gas, call the fire department. Have your supplier check the cylinder for damage when refueling, and safely store cylinders upright. Keep the cylinder valve closed when not in use.