CareNow® - July 19, 2023

Grilling outdoors is a summertime staple. From meats to veggies, everything tastes better on the grill! However, it's important to prioritize safety when it comes to lighting a grill and handling food during the heat of summer. 

Before your next BBQ, you need to know the safest way to light a grill and the most effective methods for keeping food safe outdoors. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy a worry-free grilling experience with your loved ones this summer.

What Is the Safest Way To Light a Grill?

Lighting a grill is often the first step in outdoor cooking, and doing it safely is crucial to avoid accidents and potential injuries. Let's examine some essential tips for safely lighting a grill:

  1. Choose the appropriate location: Before lighting the grill, select a suitable area away from any flammable materials, such as overhanging branches or combustible structures. Make sure the grill is on a stable surface to prevent tipping.
  2. Clean the grill: A clean grill not only enhances the flavors of your food but also reduces the risk of flare-ups. Remove any grease or residue from previous use before lighting.
  3. Use the right fuel: Whether you prefer charcoal or gas grills, it's vital to use the appropriate fuel and follow the manufacturer's instructions. When using charcoal, opt for high-quality briquettes or lump charcoal, avoiding lighter fluid that can leave an unpleasant taste on your food.
  4. Follow proper lighting procedures: When using a charcoal grill, create a pyramid-shaped mound of charcoal in the center. Carefully light the charcoal, allowing it to burn until covered with white ash before spreading it evenly across the grilling area. For gas grills, refer to the manufacturer's instructions to ensure safe ignition.
  5. Exercise caution: During the lighting process, maintain a safe distance from the grill and avoid wearing loose clothing that may catch fire. Always keep a fire extinguisher or a bucket of sand nearby as a precautionary measure.

If your outdoor BBQ leaves you needing medical care, consider visiting your local CareNow®. Each of our locations is open after hours and on the weekend to care for you when you need it most.

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How to Keep Food Safe Outdoors

Outdoor cooking often involves unique challenges when it comes to food safety. To ensure that you and your loved ones avoid foodborne illnesses, follow these essential tips:

Practice proper hand hygiene

Before and after handling food, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Keep perishable foods at safe temperatures

When transporting perishable foods, use insulated coolers with ice packs or frozen gel packs to maintain proper temperatures. Keep cold foods below 40°F (4°C) and hot foods above 140°F (60°C).

Prevent cross-contamination

Use separate cutting boards, utensils, and plates for raw and cooked foods to avoid cross-contamination. Be particularly cautious with raw meats and poultry, ensuring they do not come into contact with other ingredients.

Cook food thoroughly

Use a food thermometer to ensure that meat, poultry, and seafood reach the recommended internal temperatures to kill harmful bacteria. Refer to the FDA's safe minimum internal temperature guide for specific temperature recommendations.

Serve food promptly

Once cooked, serve the food promptly to minimize the time it spends in the "danger zone" temperature range (40°F to 140°F or 4°C to 60°C). Avoid leaving perishable food out for more than two hours (or one hour if the temperature is above 90°F or 32°C).

Store leftovers properly 

Refrigerate any leftover food within two hours of cooking. Divide large portions into smaller containers for quicker cooling. Consume leftovers within a few days, ensuring they are reheated to an appropriate temperature before serving.

By following these practices, you can reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses and enjoy your outdoor meals with peace of mind.

Can Urgent Care Test for Salmonella?

Foodborne illnesses, such as salmonella, can occur if you consume contaminated food or beverages. If you suspect you may have contracted salmonella or any other foodborne illness, you might wonder if urgent care facilities can provide testing and treatment. Here’s what you need to know.

If you experience severe symptoms like high fever, persistent vomiting, bloody stools, or signs of dehydration, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention. In this case, urgent care facilities can evaluate your symptoms and provide treatment.

Most urgent care centers, such as CareNow®, have the capability to perform diagnostic tests for salmonella. These tests typically involve a stool sample that is sent to a laboratory for analysis. The results can help confirm the presence of salmonella bacteria in your system.

If you’re diagnosed with salmonella, a medical provider can offer appropriate treatment, including rehydration, symptom relief, and guidance on managing the infection.

It's important to note that while urgent care facilities can provide initial diagnosis and treatment for salmonella, they may refer severe cases to hospitals or specialized medical professionals for further care.

What Are the Signs of Foodborne Illness?

The specific symptoms and severity of foodborne illnesses can vary depending on the type of pathogen involved and your overall health. Common symptoms of foodborne illnesses may include:

  1. Nausea: Feeling sick to the stomach or having the urge to vomit.
  2. Vomiting: Forceful expulsion of the stomach contents through the mouth.
  3. Diarrhea: Frequent, loose, or watery bowel movements.
  4. Abdominal pain: Cramping or discomfort in the stomach area.
  5. Fever: An elevated body temperature, often accompanied by chills.
  6. Fatigue: Feeling tired or lacking energy.
  7. Muscle aches: Soreness or pain in the muscles.
  8. Headache: Aching or pain in the head.
  9. Dehydration: Loss of fluids and electrolytes due to diarrhea and vomiting.
  10. Other symptoms: Some foodborne illnesses may also cause symptoms such as bloody stools, loss of appetite, weight loss, and respiratory problems.

Grilling outdoors is a great way to enjoy delicious meals with family and friends. By following the safest practices for lighting a grill, ensuring food safety, and seeking appropriate medical attention when needed, you can create a memorable and worry-free outdoor cooking experience. 

Remember to stay informed and make smart decisions when it comes to grilling safety and foodborne illness concerns. Should you end up with an injury or illness, consider visiting your local CareNow® for convenient, quality care.

Before your visit, be sure to utilize our Web Check-In® feature to wait from anywhere!

At CareNow®, we’ve received the title of Accredited Urgent Care Center from the Urgent Care Association (UCA), highlighting our dedication to our patients’ care.

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