BBQ 101: The safe grilling guide

Nothing says summer like cooking out. Anytime you’re dealing with fire, though, you need to practice safety. While operating a grill has a few inherent risks, with a little safety know-how, those risks can be avoided.

Grill safely this summer
Woman grilling

Read your manual

Before you fire up your grill, read your manual. Understand how the functions work, all the different features and how to light — and extinguish — the flame. Along with operations and instructions, your grill manual will include safety tips and tricks specific to your make and model. For example, your manual will specify how far away from your house the grill needs to be for safe operation.

Prevent fires

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, 8,200 fires per year involve grills or barbecues. Always keep a fire extinguisher handy when you’re grilling. If the fire on the grill gets out of control, stop it before it leaps to your house or singes off your eyebrows.

Practice food safety

Bacteria thrives in the heat. Part of safe grilling is food safety. Keep meat, chicken or fish cool and, preferably, indoors before it’s ready to go on the grill. Avoid using your hands because you can spread the juice from the meat to the handle of the grill or the door to the house as you go in to wash your hands. Keep tongs nearby and switch them out as they get contaminated. Use a meat thermometer to know when your dinner is done.

Check gas lines

If your grill is gas-powered, check all the tubes and hoses attached to your grill for damage like cracks. Follow the instructions in your manual for opening the gas line, and always double check to ensure it’s closed when you’re finished grilling. Most modern gas grills have several built-in safety features. Understand how they work — and use them!

Careful with charcoal

Charcoal produces carbon monoxide, so it’s imperative that your charcoal grill be in a wide-open outdoor space to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Use as little lighter fluid as possible to light the charcoal.

Clean your grill

Grease fires are dangerous. If grease drips into your grill, wait until your grill is completely cool and clean it out. Debris, such as tiny pieces of vegetables or crumbs from toasted buns, can pile up with the grease to create a fire hazard. Regardless of whether your grill is charcoal or gas, you need to clean it out thoroughly between uses.

Watch this video for more grilling safety tips

More grilling tips

Tips for becoming a barbecue master
How to grill fresh fruit
How to grill vegetables


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