The local weather calls for warm, sunny skies, and that means grilling season is upon us. Get the most from your grill this season by minimizing potential accidents. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most important personal safety tips to keep in mind while grilling out:
- Start with a clean grill. Use a grill brush to remove baked-on grime to avoid grease fires (and potential contamination).
- Review your owner’s manual. You may have used the grill dozens of times, but after two or three seasons of no use, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the unit before firing it up for the first time this season.
- Give it the once-over. Check the legs and supports, make sure any fuel lines are in good shape and look for other issues that might need some tending before use.
- Only grill outside. Don’t be tempted to grill in your garage when the local weather calls for rain. Keep the grill away from siding, overhangs, branches and decks – and anything else flammable.
- Keep a three- to four-foot personal safety zone around your grill and make sure kids and pets steer clear.
- Invest in a chimney starter. They’re inexpensive and they can eliminate the need for highly flammable (and poisonous) lighter fluid.
- Create hot spots and cool spots. Corralling your coals into one general area of your grill helps you control how much heat your food is exposed to, and that can avoid dangerous flare-ups.
- Be prepared for accidents. Keep a bucket of sand on hand to put out fires, just in case. Sand smothers grease fires while water can spread grease-fueled flames around.
- Buy a meat thermometer. Make sure you cook meat to the recommended internal temperature, and take it off the grill when measuring the temp for greater accuracy. The USDA provides a handy-dandy chart of recommended safe temperatures.
- Keep your prep area divided. Don’t cut raw meat where you cut your veggies, and vice versa.
- Keep it cool. When the local weather calls for warm temperatures, it doesn’t take long for dangerous bacteria to build up. Have a cooler on hand, and keep cool side dishes cool.
- Respect the coals. Once the cookout is over, wait for coals to cool and then place them in a metal trash can. Don’t be tempted to put them in a non-metal container that could catch fire, and don’t leave them unattended while they’re cooling.
So go ahead – this year when the local weather calls for clear skies, fire up that grill and get cooking. Just remember to follow a few simple personal safety precautions to avoid dangerous accidents that can quickly put a damper on the fun.