Cookouts and barbecues are a staple of the summer season, but firing up the grill can be dangerous if you don’t follow the proper precautions.
Each year, grilling accidents cause nearly 10,000 home fires and send 16,000 people to the emergency room. But following a few grilling safety tips can keep the focus on good food and fun, not on first-aid:
- Use grills outside only. Even small grills used inside create fire hazards, plus they release carbon monoxide, which can be fatal to people and pets without proper ventilation.
- Keep the grill away from the home, deck railing, overhanging tree branches and any flammable decorations. Make sure nothing flammable can blow onto the grill.
- Use the right lighter fluid for your grill, and store it away from the heat and out of the reach of children.
- Establish a child- and pet-free zone. Make sure children and pets are indoors and/or being supervised by someone other than the cook. And keep them at least three feet from the grill. Burns from contacting a hot grill are especially common in kids under 5.
- Clean the grill well before use. Grease and fat can build up on the grill and contribute to fires.
- Don’t overload the grill. Excess fat dripping on the flames can cause major flare-ups.
- Keep a spray bottle of water handy. Use it to douse small flare-ups before they get out of control. The bonus? Water won’t ruin the food.
- Never leave your grill unattended. And remember that charcoal grills can stay hot for hours after use.
- If your flame dies down, add dry kindling. Never add lighter fluid once the flame has been lit.
When using a gas grill
- Make sure the lid is open before lighting it. This prevents flammable gas from being trapped in the chamber, which can cause an explosion.
- If you smell gas and the flame is off, turn the gas off.
- If you smell gas while using a gas grill and the flame is on, get away immediately. This is a sign that there is a leak. Call the fire department, and stay away from the grill.
- Heading outside? Don’t get burned! Here’s how to protect your skin in the sun.
- Temperatures don’t have to reach the 100s to be dangerous, especially to the very young, the very old and those who are already dealing with illness. Learn how to recognize heat-related illness, and remember to check on older relatives and neighbors when temperatures soar.