Dos and Don'ts That Will Keep You From Becoming a Statistic
Every year, 7,000 Americans are injured while using backyard barbeque grills. It's usually a case of good products used incorrectly.
“Good Morning America teamed up with Underwriters Labratories, the non-profit company that puts the UL mark on products it has tested for safety, to highlight the most common mistakes and key safety tips.
1. Keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your house. Farther is even better. This includes portions attached to your house like carports, garages and porches. Grills should not be used underneath wooden overhangs either, as the fire could flare up into the structure above. This applies to both charcoal and gas grills.
2. Clean your grill regularly. If you allow grease and fat to build up on your grill, they provide more fuel for a fire. Grease is a major source of flare ups.
3. Check for gas leaks. You can make sure no gas is leaking from your gas grill by making a solution of half liquid dish soap and half water and rubbing it on the hoses and connections. Then, turn the gas on (with the grill lid open.) If the soap forms large bubbles, that's a sign that the hoses have tiny holes or that the connections are not tight enough.
4. Keep decorations away from your grill. Decorations like hanging baskets, pillows and umbrellas look pretty AND provide fuel for a fire. To make matters worse, today's decor is mostly made of artificial fibers that burn fast and hot, making this tip even more important.
5. Keep a spray bottle of water handy. That way, if you have a minor flare-up you can spray it with the water to instantly calm it. The bonus of this tip is that water won't harm your food, so dinner won't be ruined!
6. Keep a fire extinguisher within a couple steps of your grill. And KNOW HOW TO USE IT. If you are unsure how to use the extinguisher, don't waste time fiddling with it before calling 911. Firefighters say many fire deaths occur when people try to fight a fire themselves instead of calling for expert help and letting the fire department do its job.
7. Turn on the gas while your grill lid is closed. NEVER do this. It causes gas to build up inside your grill, and when you do light it and open it, a fireball can explode in your face.
8. Leave a grill unattended. Fires double in size every minute. Plan ahead so that all of your other food prep chores are done and you can focus on grilling.
9. Overload your grill with food. This applies especially fatty meats. The basic reason for this tip is that if too much fat drips on the flames at once, it can cause a large flare-up that could light nearby things on fire.
10. Use a grill indoors. People often think it will be safe to use a grill, especially a small one, indoors. NOT TRUE. In addition to the fire hazard, grills release carbon monoxide, the deadly colorless, odorless gas. That gas needs to vent in fresh air or it can kill you, your family and pets.
Food poisoning peaks in the summer months when warmer temperatures cause foodborne germs to flourish. Follow these steps for a safe and enjoyable grilling season.
When shopping, pick up meat, poultry, and seafood last, right before checkout. Separate them from other food in your shopping cart and grocery bags. To guard against cross-contamination, put packages of raw meat and poultry into individual plastic bags.
Keep meat, poultry, and seafood refrigerated until ready to grill. When transporting, keep below 40°F in an insulated cooler.
Wash with soap before and after handling raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Wash work surfaces, utensils, and the grill before and after cooking.
Check your grill and tools
Use a moist cloth or paper towel to clean the grill surface before cooking. If you use a wire bristle brush, thoroughly inspect the grill’s surface before cooking. Wire bristles from grill cleaning brushes may dislodge and stick into food on the grill.
Throw out marinades and sauces that have touched raw meat juices, which can spread germs to cooked foods. Use clean utensils and a clean plate to remove cooked meat from the grill.
Use a food thermometer.
to ensure meat is cooked hot enough to kill harmful germs. When smoking, keep temperatures inside the smoker at 225°F to 300°F to keep meat a safe temperature while it cooks.
145°F – whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal (stand-time of 3 minutes at this temperature)
145°F – fish
160°F – hamburgers and other ground beef
165°F – all poultry and pre-cooked meats, like hot dogs
140°F or warmer – until it’s served
Divide leftovers into small portions and place in covered, shallow containers. Put in freezer or fridge, within two hours of cooking (one hour if above 90°F outside).
It happens every year. The weather gets warmer, more people use outdoor grills – and incidents of grill-caused fires go up. Each year, outdoor grilling causes an average of 8,900 home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Regardless of the type of grill you own, here are 9 BBQ safety tips that will keep you and your home safe for barbecuing season:
1. Grill outside and away from any structures
Charcoal and gas grills are designed for outdoor use only. However, NFPA reports that more than one-quarter (27%) of home fires started by outdoor grills began in a courtyard, terrace or patio, and 29% started on an exterior balcony or open porch. Pay attention to overhanging tree branches when you set up your grill.
2. Make sure your grill is stable
Only set up your grill on a flat surface and make sure the grill can’t be tipped over. Consider using a grill pad or splatter mat underneath your grill to protect your deck or patio.
3. Keep your grill clean
Remove grease or fat buildup from both the grill and the tray below the grill. If you are using a charcoal grill, allow the coals to completely cool off before disposing of them in a metal container.
4. Check for propane leaks on your gas grill
Before the season’s first barbecue, check the gas tank hose for leaks by applying a light soap and water solution to the hose and then turning on the gas. If there is a propane leak, the solution will bubble. Other signs of a propane leak include the smell of gas near the barbecue or a flame that won’t light.
5. If the flame goes out, wait to re-light
If you are using a gas grill and the flame goes out, turn the grill and the gas off, then wait at least five minutes to re-light it.
6. Take care around the grill
Never leave a lit grill unattended. Don’t allow kids or pets to play near the grill. Never try to move a lit or hot grill, and remember the grill will stay hot for at least an hour after use.
7. Be careful with charcoal starter fluid
If you use a charcoal grill, only use charcoal starter fluid. If the fire starts to go out, don’t add any starter fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire. Consider using a charcoal chimney starter, which uses newspaper to start the fire instead of starter fluid.
8. Wear the right clothing
Clothing can easily catch fire, so be sure your shirt tails, sleeves or apron strings don’t dangle over the grill.
9. Be ready to put out the fire
Have baking soda on hand to control a grease fire and a fire extinguisher nearby for other fires. Keep a bucket of sand next to the grill. Never use water to put out grease fire.
These easy-to-follow tips will help you and your family to enjoy a safe summer barbecuing season.
13 Best Grilling Tips for Summer
Charcoal vs. Gas
Charcoal grills emit more carbon monoxide, particulate matter and soot into the atmosphere, contributing to increased pollution and higher concentrations of ground-level ozone. While no studies prove that either is healthier, gas does burn cleaner.
Get It Hot!
Your grill should be 400-450°F for high, 350-400°F for medium-high, 300-350°F for medium and 250-300°F for low heat.
Lighter fluid can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, leave an unpleasant residue on food and pose a serious danger if used improperly.
Brush It Off
It’s easier to remove debris when the grill is hot, so after preheating, use a long-handled wire grill brush on your grill rack to clean off charred debris.
Oil It Up
Reduce sticking by oiling your hot grill rack with a vegetable oil-soaked paper towel: hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.)
avoid cross-contamination by using separate cutting boards, utensils and platters for raw and cooked foods; refrigerate foods while marinating; and never baste with the marinating liquid. (Make extra marinade just for basting or boil your marinating liquid first.)
Marinate Your Meat
it also inhibits the formation of potentially carcinogenic HCAs (heterocyclic amines), which form when grilling “muscle meats” like poultry, red meat and fish. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), marinating can reduce HCA formation by as much as 92 to 99 percent.
A Chimney Starter
Just place crumpled paper in the bottom of the chimney, fill it with charcoal and light the paper. In about 20 minutes the coals will be ready to spread evenly in the bottom of the grill—no kindling, no lighter fluid, no perfect pyramid required.
Is It Done?
The best way to know if protein is fully cooked is to check its internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer.
Use A Grill Basket
Use a grill basket for foods that might fall through the grill rack or are too cumbersome to turn over one by one (vegetables, fish, tofu, fruits, etc.).
The Hand Test
To gauge the temperature of a grill without a thermometer, place your open palm about 5 inches above the grill rack; the fire is high if you have to move your hand in 2 seconds, medium if you have to move your hand in 5 seconds and low if you have to move your hand in 10 seconds.