CareNow® - June 25, 2021

Nothing is more synonymous with the summer months than spending time around the grill with family. Unfortunately, if the proper precautions are not taken, this typically enjoyable experience can lead to severe property damages or even personal injury. 

According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), an average of 19,700 people per year end up seeking medical treatment due to grill-based injuries. In addition, gas and charcoal grills combined cause around 4,200 house fires and 5,600 external fires per year. In this article, we will look at six essential tips for grilling safely at home and reducing your risk of injury.

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Pick a Safe Location To Grill

When grilling, it is important to always do so far away from any combustible structures, including houses, patio furniture or tree branches. While it may be tempting on a rainy or cold day, you should never use a grill in a garage, patio, pergola or other enclosed space. Even if the space is well-vented, fire can cause harmful carbon monoxide buildup. 

It is convenient to store grills under a patio or against a home, but when preparing to grill, it's important you keep your grill at least 10 feet from any structure to prevent a potential fire. This is especially good advice for charcoal or other solid-fueled grills. According to the NFPA, these grill types were involved in 1,300 home fires per year, including 600 structure fires and 600 outside fires annually.

Be Prepared to Put Out a Fire

You hope it never happens but having a plan to put out a fire before it starts is essential. This means making sure you have both the tools and knowledge needed to put out a fire should the situation get out of hand. 

No matter what type of grill you are using, it is always a good idea to have a working fire extinguisher on hand and readily accessible when grilling. Household fire extinguishers typically last between five and 15 years before they expire and become ineffective. It is important to regularly inspect your fire extinguisher and replace as needed before the expiration date. 

Another tip is to keep a bucket of sand next to the grill should you experience a grease fire. Never use water to put out grease fires. Since oil and water do not mix, pouring water on a fire can actually cause the oil to splash and spread, making the fire even worse. 

Finally, have a spray bottle on hand to keep flair ups at bay. Doing so will allow you to quickly extinguish smaller flames before they become a bigger issue.

Keep Up with Proper Grill Maintenance Items

An often-overlooked safety tip that can have serious repercussions if ignored is keeping your grill clean. Not only is it important for food safety reasons, but fire safety as well. If a grill is not cleaned regularly, food and grease can build up and be a potential fire hazard. 

Using a gas grill comes with several conveniences, but one maintenance item is checking your gas connection for leaks before using it for the first time each grilling season. 

If you smell gas coming from your grill and the grill is off, it is important to shut off the gas immediately. If you happen to smell gas while cooking and a flame is present, it is advised that you get away from the area immediately and call the fire department.

Never Leave a Hot Grill Unattended

Charcoal grills can continue to remain hot for many hours after the flames extinguish. When possible, after grilling, cover the grill tightly and close the vents to prevent combustible items that may be blown by the wind into your grill from igniting. 

Closing vents will also help burn off oxygen and suffocate the fire, helping to extinguish any flames. 

If you are using a charcoal grill, allow the coals to completely cool off before disposing of them in a metal container. For charcoal grills, allow coals to cool for 48 hours before disposing. 

If you are not able to wait, douse coals with plenty of water and stir them to ensure that the fire is out. Never place coals in plastic, paper or wooden containers; place in a metal container with a tight-fitting lid.

Keep Children and Pets Away from the Grill

Setting up a kid-free-zone around the grilling area is a great idea if you know children are going to be present. It is important to take time to fully explain the zone with children. 

You can even let the child mark the zone with chalk or rope as an additional teaching opportunity. When setting up the kid-free-zone, a distance of three to six feet is typically considered safe. 

In addition to the kid-free-zone, be sure to double check that your grill is set up on a flat surface, as doing so helps make sure the grill can’t be tipped over easily by pets who may also enter the area. 

Teaching young children proper grill safety and explaining the danger associated with fire is an essential step in preventing accidents at your family BBQ.

Know Basic Food Safety

While you may have fire safety down at this point, learning a few simple food safety items could go a long way in preventing foodborne illness for you or your guests. Knowing the correct safe minimum cooking temperatures for different meats starts with having an accurate meat thermometer. 

Cooking foods to an exact temperature is crucial as meat needs to get hot enough to kill harmful germs that cause food poisoning. Pork and ground beef should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, poultry to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and steak and pork to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Learning to prevent cross-contamination of food while outside is also important. The easiest tip to implement is to use hot, soapy water to clean hands and wipe up kitchen surfaces or spills.

While following these tips and taking the proper precautions can go a long way to preventing grilling related accidents, if you or someone you know is injured around the grill, visit CareNow® to get proper medical attention. Our qualified and experienced healthcare professionals offer a wide range of primary and urgent care services for the entire family.

Be sure to utilize the Web Check-In® feature before your visit to avoid a longer wait!

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Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.