After winter, good weather means getting outside and gathering with friends and family for a backyard BBQ. Before you fire up the grill, consider safety. From 2011 to 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 9,600 home fires involving grills, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Here are some simple guidelines to ensure BBQ safety:
Keep Your Grill Tuned Up
Treat your grill like a shiny new car by cleaning it and completing regular maintenance. Otherwise, it will suffer from a build-up of food and ashes that can act as kindling in the event of a grill fire.
- Always clean your grill before you use it again when BBQ season rolls around. Make a habit of doing the same after every BBQ. Use a wire brush on the grate and scrape out any ash in the bowl—a common garden trowel works well.
- If you find that rust is starting to damage the grill’s walls, replace it entirely. Also, replace hoses that have leaks or feel brittle and any connectors that are scratched or damaged.
- Make sure tubes that feed the burner aren’t blocked. This can happen by insects, grease or food. A wire or pipe cleaner should do the trick.
Work the Grill Properly
In 2006 through 2010, U.S. fire departments were called to the scenes of an average of 8,600 fires, in-home and outside. Operate your grill cautiously and read the manual for model-specific requirements.
- Set up the grill outside in an open, uncovered area. Statistics show that in 2006-2010 more than 28% of structure fires were caused by grills started on a patio, courtyard or terrace and another 28% started on an exterior balcony or open porch. Situate the grill at least 10 feet from a house or building.
- Avoid flare-ups. Preheat the grill for about 15 to 20 minutes. When food is placed on the grate, use only 60% of the grate. If a piece of cooking meat starts to flare up, move it to a cooler spot on the grate.
- Use fresh charcoal and throw out any bags that have been stored all winter long. When lighting a gas grill, always keep the lid open, because propane can build up and cause an explosion.
- Don’t add lighter fluid or gasoline to burning charcoal. According to the NFPA, around a quarter of grill injuries are the result of an impatient griller adding fuel to the fire.
Use Common Sense
Good old common sense goes a long way in preventing backyard BBQ disasters.
- Never leave the grill unattended and keep children away. This diligence protects kids and pets from accidental burns and injuries.
- Be prepared for flare-ups. Have a fire extinguisher, garden hose or bucket of sand on hand.
- Use the right cooking equipment. Flame-retardant mitts and long-handled tongs and utensils will make it less likely that you’ll get burned handling hot food.
- Stay sober when operating the grill. You need to be focused and aware, so save the beer or other alcoholic drinks for later.
These are just some of the precautions you can take during BBQ season. Stay on top of BBQ safety so you can relax and enjoy a summer of tasty grilled meals!