When summer comes around, there’s no better time to fire up the grill and have a cookout with family and friends. In fact, seven out of every ten adults in the US own a grill, which means lots of barbecuing each year for Americans. When preparing to fire up your grill, it’s easy to overlook the danger that grills pose. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), grills account for 19,700 injuries and 10,600 home fires on average each year. By following these simple tips, you can help reduce the risks associated with grilling and focus on cooking the perfect meal!
Here are 12 tips to make to keep you and your home safe during the grilling season:
1. Give Your Grill Space
Whether you have a gas or charcoal grill, you will need to use your grill outside. You will want to keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your house, garage, deck railing, or any other structures around your property. Be aware of your grill’s placement. Avoid putting the grill under any overhangs, awnings, or branches in case of flare-ups or loose sparks flying around. Providing ample space for your grill will help to prevent fires from spreading to your home in the case of an accident.
2. Make Sure Your Grill is Stable
Place your grill on a solid, flat surface to ensure the grill is balanced and won’t tip over easily.
3. Clean Your Grill
At the beginning of the grilling season, it is essential to create a maintenance plan and continue to make sure your grill is in working order anytime your use it. Every grill owner should have a reliable grill brush to use before and after each grilling session. It is essential to clean your grill regularly to remove grease and fat build-up, as these can be highly flammable and helps reduce the risk of flare-ups. Additionally, using a clean grill will make your food taste better and stops your food from sticking to the grate.
4. Check for Gas Leaks
If you are using a gas grill, you want to make sure the propane tank is correctly connected, so there are no harmful gas leaks. To test this, make a quick solution of dish soap and water, then use a toothbrush to apply that to the hose and connections. Turn on the gas, and if there is a leak, you will see bubbles forming from the gas escaping the hose.
You can also detect a gas leak by smell. You may notice an odor of rotten eggs if there is a leak, which is the scent of the propane. In the case that you notice this smell while cooking, immediately turn off the grill and move away until it cools down.
5. Start Your Grill with the Lid Open
When starting up a gas grill, be sure to keep the lid open or the top removed. When closed, the gas can build up, which is dangerous when you open the lid.
6. Be Cautious with Lighter Fluid
Only use lighter fluid when you are preparing your charcoals and before you light them. Do not add more fluid once you ignite the charcoals and there are flames present. As an alternative, you can use a charcoal chimney starter to light your coals, and you won’t have to worry about the potential chemical flavor on your food from the lighter fluid.
7. Take Care Around Your Grill
With your grill lit, you should be cautious and exercise common sense to avoid any accidents or injuries. Do not leave the grill unattended, and have everything you need to be prepared before you light it. Keep children and pets away from the grill as much as possible. Do not attempt to move a grill that is lit and currently in use. Nearly half of the annual injuries associated with grill are thermal burns.
8. Don’t Overload Your Grill
If you are grilling large quantities of food, especially fatty meats, you should plan to cook in batches rather than trying to squeeze it all onto the grill at once. The more food there is on the grill, the greater chance you have for a flare-up when the fat drips on the flames.
9. Use a Meat Thermometer
Consuming undercooked meat can result in illness, often when internal temperatures of the meat are not high enough to kill the harmful bacteria present. Charcoal grills in particular and gas grills may have inconsistent heating, and though the food may look “done,” it may not be fully cooked through. To ensure that you always reach food-safe cooking temperatures, use a meat thermometer to get accurate readings on the temperature.
10. Avoid Cross-Contamination
When handling raw meat, be careful not to contaminate other surfaces and food with harmful bacteria. Use fresh platters and utensils when transporting cooked food, and be careful not to reuse the same ones before cooking.
11. Keep a Fire Extinguisher on Hand
For any grease fire that may flare up, be sure to have baking soda at the ready and a fire extinguisher for any large fires. Be sure you review how to operate the fire extinguisher beforehand properly. Remember, do not use water to put out a grease fire.
12. Properly Shut Down the Grill
Once you finished cooking all the food, the last step is to turn off your grill correctly. If using a gas grill, turn off the burners and close the propane supply. For charcoal grills, close the air vents to choke the flames and coals. Wait to remove the coals until they are completely cooled.
A little preparation and awareness can go a long way to help reduce the risks of grilling. By following these simple steps, you can ensure a safe grilling setup and will allow you to enjoy your summer to the fullest. Happy grilling!