When you are getting ready to enjoy the wonders of a barbecued meal, the last thing that you want is to damper the occasion through a grill accident. Each type of grill has its own unique dangers as well as the precautions that you, as the griller, need to take to make sure that you and everyone around you remain safe.
One of the biggest dangers inherent to a charcoal grill is the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning. When charcoal is burned, it produces the colorless, odorless gas carbon monoxide that can quickly reach toxic levels. In fact, every year, there are about 30 people who are killed and 100 people that are injured from the carbon monoxide fumes that emit from charcoal grills. (Source: http://www.clevelandcounty.com/emfm/grillsaf.htm)
The easiest way to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning is to never use charcoal grills indoors. This includes homes, tents, and campers. Carbon monoxide accumulates quickest in closed environments and can reach toxic levels even when there is ventilation. Since carbon monoxide is emitted from coals until the moment they are completely extinguished, this also means that you should never store a grill inside that has freshly used coals.
Outside of carbon monoxide poisoning, there are other simple fire safety steps that you can take to make sure that you have no problems while you are at the grill. The first step is to properly prepare your grill. Keep it a safe distance from any buildings, tress, or other items that could catch fire. It is also extremely important that you keep any children or pets away from the designated grill area. Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby in the case of any small fire emergencies.
Specifically with charcoal, make sure that once your charcoal is lit that you refrain from adding additional lighter fluid. This is a dangerous practice lighter fluid turns to gas at low temperature. This means that as the fire can return into the fluid container, which will lead to an explosion. Always follow the instructions on the lighter fluid container.
The final steps in grill safety are how you prepare your personal self. Never wear loose clothing while you are grilling. Loose clothing can accidentally pass over the flames, catching yourself on fire. The other big precautionary step is to always use appropriate, specifically designed grill utensils. Grill utensils have longer handles, which allow you to keep a safe distance away from the flame.