Backyard barbecues are a quintessential part of summer for many families. Juicy steaks, burgers and grilled veggies on the grill can’t be beat on a lazy afternoon. But grilling doesn’t come without risks. From hot flames to propane gas, your relaxing outdoor meal can turn into a trip to the emergency room without proper precautions. Here are our top BBQ safety tips to keep your summer grilling hazard-free.
1. Check your grills. Whether you have a gas grill or charcoal grill, before you fire it up, give it a look over to ensure there are no bulges, dents, leaks or rusting on gas tanks, nor faulty parts on your charcoal grill.
2. Keep the outdoor grills outdoors. Propane and charcoal grills are designed for outdoor use. Propane gas tanks should not be brought inside your home and charcoal grills, which give off carbon monoxide, should not be used indoors.
3. Follow your manufacturer's manual. To get the best use from your particular grill, read the manufacturer's manual to learn how to properly light your grill, cook on your grill, and store your grill when not in use.
4. Wear proper attire. Keep long sleeves, long shirts and long hair, which can catch fire easily, away from the heat. Keep kids away from the grill unless you are teaching them age-appropriate grilling skills.
5. Use the right utensils. Grill mitts, long armed grill tools, and grill gadgets, such as a grill basket or rotisserie, will not only make your grilling experience less hazardous, they will also help you cook your grilled foods to perfection.
6. Keep raw foods away from cooked foods. Cross contamination between raw and cooked foods can lead to E.coli and other foodborne illnesses. Use one plate for raw food and one plate for cooked food. Designate one cutting board for meats and one for vegetables, or one for raw meats and one for cooked foods.
7. Store your food properly. If you are marinating foods for over 30 minutes, keep them in the refrigerator until you are ready to put them on the grill. In addition, don't brush the marinade that food has been sitting in on cooked foods; instead, boil it for a few minutes before basting or make enough marinade initially to keep some separate for basting purposes only.
8. Do not char your foods. To reduce your exposure to carcinogens produced by grilling, cook your foods at lower temperatures and avoid charring. If charring occurs, remove the burned parts before eating. Research also suggests marinating your foods in highly spiced and/or fruit marinades overnight to further reduce the carcinogens formed while grilling.
9. Keep a fire extinguisher handy. You never know when an emergency may happen. Being prepared with a fire extinguisher can prevent fires from spreading.
10. Store grill properly after use. For a gas grill, turn the valve off when you are done grilling. For a charcoal grill, let coals burn out completely. Close grill lid and use a grill cover in between uses. Never store extra propane tanks under the gas grill, and do not simply throw empty propane tanks in the trash. Check with your local municipal programs for proper disposal instructions.