With summer finally here, now is the perfect time to look at one of the most frequent summertime activities, grilling outside. Unfortunately, according to the National Fire Protection Association, this popular activity is also the source of about 8,600 home fires annually.
Since the peak season for grilling activity still lies ahead of July, let’s look at how to prevent a summertime icon from becoming a horrible memory.
For starters, be sure your grill is in good working condition before using it, and read the safety instructions with the grill. (Note: You can probably find them online at the grill’s manufacturer website if you can’t find the original instructions.)
10 Tips for Safe Grilling
After deeming your grill safe for use and being knowledgeable enough to use it safely, employ the following tips during the grilling process.
- Make sure you can see what you’re doing. For example, keep the grilling area well-lit during evening hours, and consider wearing safety glasses with built-in LED lights when it’s not.
- Designate a fire marshal. In other words, always ensure someone keeps an eye on the grill. The NFPA says that of the over 8,000 cooking-related home fires yearly, unattended cooking areas were the leading contributing factor.
- Stay out of the smoke. While the smoke sometimes smells good, the smoke is never good for you. In fact, The Effects of Gas Grill Smoke on Health can involve carbon monoxide poisoning and cancer from carcinogens.
- Wear eye protection. Grease and smoke can quickly get into your eyes while grilling. For this reason, consider wearing a good pair of safety glasses. Not only will they keep eyes safe while grilling, but they’re also handy for many other activities around the home.
- Put away the lighter fluid. For those using charcoal grills, never add lighter fluid to already lit coals. Instead, after dousing coals initially, put the fluid safely away before lighting the coals. This reduces the temptation to add fuel to the fire at any point and keeps additional fuel at a safe distance should a fire mishap occur.
- Dress appropriately. Loose clothing, like hanging shirttails and apron strings, can easily catch fire. In fact, 16% of cooking deaths are caused by clothing that caught fire.
- Use proper utensils. There are utensils explicitly made for grilling for a reason. Namely, they can withstand the flame and have long handles to protect the grillmaster from being burned by the fire.
- Limit activity near the grill. This means anyone not grilling should keep a safe distance during grilling and afterward while the grill cools after being turned off.
- Practice proper food safety. First, avoid charred food since experts believe blackened meat increases cancer risk. Second, don’t forget other menu items, which may need to stay cool before, during, and after the main dish is cooking.
- Be prepared for fires. Keep baking soda on hand for small grease fires and the fire hose and a fire extinguisher nearby for slightly larger fires. However, call the fire department if fires can’t be put out immediately since 3 out of 5 (57%) cooking fire injuries occur when victims try to fight the fire themselves.
Precautions before, during, and after grilling go a long way in preventing out-of-control fires, careless burn injuries, and sickness from eating tainted food. Proper grill care and good cookout choices can keep this popular summer pastime enjoyable while providing a terrific way to build long-lasting memories free from mishaps or tragedies.