As the weather continues to get warmer and summer holidays approach, the smell of smoke and searing meat will fill the air. Nothing beats firing up the barbecue and enjoying the company of family and friends over a delicious grilled meal. That said, whether your own a gas, charcoal, or wood-burning grill, it’s important to know that there are some important steps you should take to keep yourself, your loved ones, and your possessions safe.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, outdoor grilling causes an average of 8,900 home fires annually – so you’ll want to avoid falling into some of the hazardous habits that can increase the danger of cooking in the great outdoors. So if you’re planning a Memorial Day cookout, you’ll want to check out these smart tips that can help reduce the risk of fire or injury on the big day.
1. Choose a Smart Location
First and foremost, let’s state the obvious. Grilling should only be done outside – never light any kind of grill inside unless that is its explicitly stated purpose (i.e., an indoor-safe grill attachment on a kitchen stove). Also, even if space is limited, it’s critical to try to set up your grill away from major structures and outbuildings, and also to keep clear of low hanging hazards, like branches and power lines.
2. Don’t Rush The Setup
One of the best things you can do to ensure that your grilling will be a safe adventure is to ensure that the grill is setup on a stable, level surface. A lopsided grill may tip over when charcoal or food is added, or be easier to knock over if there are small children or animals playing in the immediate area.
3. Keep Things Clean
Removing debris, built-up grease or fat, and emptying coal trays after each grilling session is critical to avoiding nasty flare-ups or uncontrolled flames.
4. Check For Leaks
If you have a gas grill, you’ll want to check your grill’s gas hose prior to use, especially after a long off-season. Mix together a solution of water and dish soap, and apply it to the hose – then turn the tank on. If there are any leaks along the length of the hose, bubbles will appear – and if that happens, replace the hose prior to use.
5. Use Starter Fluid Sparingly
If you use a charcoal or wood grill, it’s important not to go nuts with the starter fluid. Grilling is not an activity to be rushed – starting with a small flame and waiting for the fuel to turn into smoldering embers is the best way to tackle any outdoor grilling. The last thing you want is a roaring bonfire in your grill – it’s dangerous and it certainly won’t produce good-tasting food. You might even consider alternatives, like a charcoal chimney or ready-to-light charcoal, instead of using a liquid accelerant to get your grill lit.
6. Be Prepared
In the case of an unexpected flare-up or other issue with your grill, it’s important to have the supplies on hand to extinguish the flames. Baking soda can be useful for putting out grease fires, and it’s always good to have a fire extinguisher on hand. You can also keep a bucket of sand nearby – in case things start to get out of control, simple throw the sand over the base of the flames. Note: never use water to extinguish a grill fire, as it can cause flammable substances like grease to disperse, spreading the flames.