July is National Grilling Safety month and whether you are deemed the “Barbeque Master” on your block or not, safety still matters! Most all safety tips really are just common sense, but with the regularity in which we barbeque each summer comes a comfort level that sometimes allows for us to overlook one or more safety items that can put you, your loved ones, or property at risk. Knowing what risks you are taking each time you fire up your grill puts you one step ahead of the fire and the potential damage that can come from simply doing something you do quite often. Here are just a few things to keep in mind when grilling this season or any other season for that matter.
1. Respect the Fire
I don’t think I need to tell you that fire is a destructive force that can quickly turn into a nightmare if taken for granted. There are thousands of fires each year that evolve from grilling, causing injury, death and millions of dollars in property damage. Knowing your flame and how to control it is number one. Designate one person to watch the fire that is aware of how to cut fuel supplies, extinguish fires, and call the Fire Department. This person should also be familiar with how to treat burns.
2. Food Safety
Although it’s probably the most obvious risk, fire is not the only one when grilling. Food safety is key to being able to enjoy the outdoors when on vacation, at a party, or even just a quiet family dinner. Bacteria can eat and exist on every kind of food that you possibly imagine. It can grow and multiply at any temperature and if you aren’t careful, can prove to be one of the worst experiences of your life (no joke). If you’ve ever had food poisoning, you may agree that it may just be the worst type of “sick” you’ve ever been. Keep in mind when you are done serving up yourself and your guests, everything gets put into the fridge. A few rules of thumb: Wash your Hands, Cover it Up, Keep it Cool, Get it Hot!, and simply put…Use your Head. Bacteria can grow on anything that is above freezing and can stay alive until the temperature hit’s 165 degrees F.
3. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH)…aka Smoke
Acenaphthene, acenaphthylene, and fluoranthene…wait what???? These are just 3 of the 18 of the Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) that can take flight when grease begins to burn. Just like second hand cigarette smoke can give you cancer, so can smoke from grilling. Although, the smell of a grill can be nostalgic and somewhat enjoyable when cooking up your hamburgers and hotdogs, be sure to keep your distance. The younger you are, the worse effect it can have on you.
4. Gas Safety
Do you know what the some of the number one causes of a gas fire is?
a. Gas leak
c. Organic Materials
d. All of the Above
If you chose “d”, congratulations! You are one step closer to knowing your grilling safety and keeping yourself, loved ones and your property out of harm’s way. Any of the items listed above can ignite a gas fire when you start up your grill because they are “hidden” behind, underneath, or inside your grill where you don’t often look. Check out your grill from all angles before firing it up. Look for anything that could be flammable near or around your grill and remove it accordingly. In addition to being gross and annoying, bugs can cause all kinds of damage in regards to your grill that may result in a gas flowing where it shouldn’t. Check for leaks and other possible breakages that can result in a fire.
5. Drink Responsibly
Most of us like to cool it down with a tasty alcoholic beverage when grilling, but much like driving, alcohol and grilling do not go hand in hand. Grilling requires clear a mind. Be sober, be alert, and above all be responsible when grilling!
For more safety tips on grilling, please visit http://www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/home_fire_prev/cooking.shtm. Be calm and grill on my friends!