By Adrian Sparrow
Summer is the time for outdoor cookouts and delicious grilled food. Cooking food over a flame gets us outside and closer to nature while preparing nourishment for a special occasion. Grilling requires a combination of food and fire safety that applies no matter when you break out the barbie.
Grilling food includes safe practices for cooking food just as you would in the kitchen, just with a different appliance outdoors. Just like an oven, never leave the grill unsupervised.
Pay attention to time and grilling temperature. While you want to cook your food to specific temperatures, you don’t want it raw or burnt to a crisp. Use a timer and meat thermometer! If the wind is blowing, the grill’s temperature will rise if it’s a charcoal grill and lower if it uses gas.
Preheat the grill with the lid closed when it’s time to cook. This helps keep food from sticking to the grate and makes it easier to clean and brush off old bits of food. Keep the lid down while you cook to reduce the risk of fire.
Home grills were involved in an average of 10,600 reported home fires between 2014 and 2018, with July being the peak month for grilling fires. The leading factors were dirty grills, leaks or breaks, unsupervised grills, or placing the grill too close to something flammable.
An average of 19,700 people went to emergency departments in this time frame due to grill or barbecue burns. Take precautions before and while you grill so you and your family can avoid a summer trip to the hospital.
Keep baking soda on hand in case of a grease fire and an extinguisher or bucket of sand for other fires. Never put out a grease fire with water- throwing water on a grease fire can cause the grease to splatter and spread the fire.
A dirty grill can become its own fire hazard. Grease and fat buildup can spatter and fuel a stray spark. Clear both the grill and the tray below, easiest when the grill is still hot after use. If using charcoal, wait until the coals are completely cool before disposing of them in a metal container.
Keep the grill on a flat, steady surface and ensure it can’t be tipped over. The last thing a cookout needs is spilled coals and a deck fire.
Only grill outdoors and away from any structures or overhanging branches. Don’t grill on exterior balconies where the heat can damage the floors above or below.
Keep children and pets away from the grill. Wear appropriate clothing that doesn’t have strings or sleeves that could dangle over the grill and catch fire.
By taking the proper safety measures, you can keep your cookout cool and your summer safe from unnecessary scorching.