Homeowners Insurance

Emergency Department Visits From Grilling Injuries Jump 18% in 10 Years

Children younger than 10 accounted for more than one-fifth of related hospital trips in the same period.
A father shows his son how to grill hot dogs.
A father shows his son how to grill hot dogs. Source: Getty Images

Emergency departments have seen a significant rise over the past decade in the number of visits from grilling injuries.

And these visits can cause confusion after injured people return home and assess any damage. A 2021 ValuePenguin survey found that 39% of grill owners didn’t know whether their homeowners or renters insurance protected them from related damages.

With July’s National Grilling Month nearing, this ValuePenguin study analyzed the latest injury data from the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to break down the who and how around grilling injuries. We’ll also share the 2021 survey data to provide consumer insight.

Key findings

  • The number of people treated in emergency departments for grilling-related injuries rose 18% over the past 10 years. The bulk of this increase was earlier in the 2012-to-2021 period, as injuries were down 11% between 2017 (when injuries peaked) and 2021.
  • Children younger than 10 accounted for 21% of emergency department visits for grilling in the 10 years examined — the highest percentage among the age groups. Next were people ages 30 to 39 and 20 to 29 (both 16%).
  • Men were far more likely to be treated at emergency departments for grilling injuries than women. Of the nearly 210,000 people treated in emergency departments because of grilling in the past 10 years, 64% were men and 36% were women.
  • The most common grilling-related injuries treated at hospitals were burns to the upper extremities. Roughly half of the grilling injuries between 2012 and 2021 were burns, and 44% of injuries were to the upper extremities — shoulders to fingers. After burns, lacerations were the second most common injuries.
  • These injuries can create unknowns around home and renters insurance. A 2021 ValuePenguin study found that nearly 4 in 10 Americans with a grill (39%) said they didn’t know whether standard home or renters insurance covers fire damage. Another 20% outright said it didn’t.

Grilling-related injuries rise in last decade

The number of grilling injuries treated in hospital emergency departments — whether from sparking a fire or getting too close to the heat — rose 18% over the past 10 years (2012 to 2021).

Injuries spiked in 2020 as outdoor activities became one of the safest ways to socialize amid the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. As vaccines rolled out in 2021, 71% of Americans told ValuePenguin they planned to attend or host a barbecue. Year over year between 2020 and 2021, the number of injuries remained steady.

Grilling-related injuries (by year)


Source: ValuePenguin analysis of U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) data

The high in the past decade was in 2017, with more than 24,000 grilling-related injuries treated at emergency departments. 2017 was also Earth’s third-warmest year on record, which likely sent many Americans outside to their grills to avoid hotter-than-usual kitchens.

Between 2017 and 2021, though, the number of injuries dropped 11%, meaning the bulk of the 18% jump came earlier in the decade.

Grilling injuries most common among children younger than 10

Children younger than 10 accounted for 21% of emergency department visits for grilling-related injuries over the 10 years studied.

For kids younger than 1 in 2020, unintentional fires or burns were the sixth leading cause of nonfatal emergency department visits in the U.S. For kids ages 1 to 4, they were the ninth leading cause of nonfatal visits that year.

The American Burn Association recommends talking with children about fire dangers and not leaving them unattended around open flames and grills.

The age group with the second-largest number of grilling injuries over this period was 30- to 39-year-olds. The 2021 ValuePenguin survey found that millennials (ages 25 to 40) were most likely to admit to grilling while drunk, which could contribute to the injuries total. The third-largest number of grilling injuries was for 20- to 29-year-olds — half of whom are within that same millennial age range.

The groups with the fewest grilling mishaps were those 80 and older — who likely grill less often — and children and teens 10 to 19. A 2020 report from the American Family Physician journal noted burn injuries are more common among children and older people. Because of this, the report noted the importance of education during primary care visits. A heavy emphasis on education and kids being injured at a younger age could have contributed to the decline in related injuries within this range.

Grilling-related injuries (by age)

Age range
Injuries (2012 to 2021)
Percentage of overall injuries
0 to 941,89121%
10 to 1913,7597%
20 to 2931,61816%
30 to 3932,60916%
40 to 4928,79214%
50 to 5925,05412%
60 to 6915,5608%
70 to 799,7465%
80 and older2,9932%

Source: ValuePenguin analysis of CPSC NEISS data. Note: Percentages don’t add to 100% due to rounding.

Men experience majority of grill-related injuries treated at hospitals

Men accounted for most (64%) of the nearly 210,000 hospital-treated injuries from grilling from 2012 to 2021.

Grilling-related injuries (by gender)

Injuries (2012 to 2021)
Percentage of overall injuries

Source: ValuePenguin analysis of CPSC NEISS data

For men and women, most grill-related injuries were from unspecified or gas grills. The CPSC recommends that gas grill owners examine theirs at least once a year to look for cracked hoses, blockages or leaks. Also, the propane tank should be shut off after each use.

Upper body is most susceptible to grill-related burns

Maneuvering food items on the grill requires the appointed cook to put their upper limbs close to the heated elements. So maybe it’s not surprising that 44% of hospital-treated grilling injuries spanned from fingertips to shoulders, while nearly a quarter (24%) were to the head or neck. Sniff checks and close visual inspections should be done only after the food is removed from the grill.

Grilling-related injuries (by body part)

Body part
Injuries (2012 to 2021)
Percentage of overall injuries
Upper extremities95,19844%
Lower extremities32,48815%
25% or more of body13,6756%
Lower trunk/pubic region12,7946%
Upper trunk8,7014%
Internal (aspiration/ingestion)1,5241%

Source: ValuePenguin analysis of CPSC NEISS data

Meanwhile, while lacerations accounted for about 15% of injuries, more than half were burns. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states that many burns from grills are from contact with nonfire elements, such as parts of the grill or hot coals.

A major burn for adults is when 25% or more of the body’s surface area is involved. Only 6% of grilling-related injuries were that extensive.

In general, grilling injuries were less severe than the typical injury involving a trip to the emergency department. According to the ValuePenguin analysis, 9% of people requiring a hospital visit due to grilling injuries were admitted, while the overall admittance average was 10%.

Grilling-related injuries (by injury type)

Injury type
Injuries (2012 to 2021)
Percentage of overall injuries
Contusions, abrasions512,1656%
Strain, sprain10,8405%
Internal organ injury6,3643%
Foreign body1,9811%

Source: ValuePenguin analysis of CPSC NEISS data. Note: Percentages don’t add to 100% due to rounding.

Here’s a burn first aid guide from the American Burn Association.

Homeowners, renters insurance policies can protect grillers

Standard homeowners and renters insurance cover grill-caused fire damage, but ValuePenguin found in a 2021 survey that 39% of Americans with a grill were unsure if it was covered — and another 20% said no it wasn’t. By age group, baby boomers ages 56 to 75 (55%) and Gen Xers ages 41 to 55 (39%) were the least likely to know how their insurance treated grilling.

Homeowner insurance companies will pay the claims covered by your policy — including covering any damage to property and personal belongings, and covering liability if a guest is hurt on your property — after the deductible.

It’s important to note that coverage wouldn’t likely apply if damage was caused by:

  • Improperly maintained or serviced grills
  • Faulty fuel lines that owners knew about but neglected to fix
  • Mechanical failure or wear and tear

Companies may only insure grills up to a certain amount, too, so the grill's value could impact whether it’s covered in full. Expanded or increased property coverage could help here.


To estimate grilling injuries over time, ValuePenguin researchers analyzed 2012-to-2021 data from the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS).

Specifically, analysts estimated the number of grilling-related injuries that required an emergency department visit. Note that the NEISS doesn’t include specific breakdowns in a given period when the estimate is less than 1,200. Because the data omits certain breakdowns under this threshold, the categories above have varying total numbers.