According to the National Fire Protection Association, from 2007 to 2011, fire departments across this country responded to roughly 156,000 house fires that involved cooking appliances. During that period, these accidents caused approximately 400 civilian deaths, and more than $850 million in property damage each year. As you can see, practicing proper grilling techniques this summer is essential to your family’s safety and to avoiding costly damage. Be sure to follow these eight tips for safe summer grilling.
1. Mind Your Kids and Pets
Kids should be instructed to stay away from the grilling area at all times. Remember, you might have to run in and out of the house during the grilling process (although this should be limited as much as possible) and a hot grill looks no warmer to the naked eye than one that’s not in use, especially to a child. Keep your dog and other pets properly restrained, as well.
2. Keep Your Grill Clean
Make sure you keep your grill clean on a consistent basis, namely after each and every time you use it. Cranking up a grill with a ton of baked-on debris or dried up grease at the bottom is a great way to start a fire. On the other hand, opening up to a clean grill each time you barbecue is an excellent way to ensure safety.
3. Practice Basic Food Safety
Use separate cutting boards when preparing meat, seafood, and poultry, and clean them appropriately as you go. Keep cold foods cold once they’re out of the refrigerator and until they’re on the grill, and once your food is heated up keep it warm by using chafing dishes and chafing fuel. If you don’t follow through with this, bacteria – and their ensuing food borne illnesses – can set in. Wash your hands as needed, especially when switching between handling different foods from the above mentioned food groups.
4. Read the Owner’s Manual
The owner’s manual for your grill, whether gas, electric, or charcoal, normally has specific safety tips. Not everyone takes time to learn these precautions, but there’s a lot riding on your safety practices when grilling – namely, the well-being of your family – so it’s well worth the effort.
5. Separate Your Marinade
If you are marinating chicken or beef and your recipe requires basting (using the marinade) be sure to separate some of it after your marinade is complete. Do not baste cooked foods with marinade that has touched raw foods. This is also a surefire way to increase the chance of a food borne illness ruining your next summer party.
6. Use Clean Dishware for Serving
If you have a large plate of raw meat going on the grill, do not use the same plate when the food is cooked. This might seem obvious, but for anyone who has grilled before, they’ll tell you this can be tempting since you have a plate right there, thus avoiding the need for another trip back to the kitchen. Take the extra time and use only clean dishware for serving.
7. Cool Coals Completely Before Disposing
If you’ve got a charcoal grill, make sure your coals are completely cool before disposing of them. How can you know? There aren’t any hard and fast rules. It depends on the amount of coals used, the time spent cooking on them, and more. Your best bet is to let them cool completely overnight and dispose of them in the morning. That way you won’t run the risk of starting a fire in the trash.
8. Refrigerate Leftovers Quickly
Once all the food is cooked and you’re sitting back enjoying the fruits of your labor, there’s still one more step to take. Don’t keep any uneaten food that’s sat on the counter for several hours – it should sit out for no longer than one hour before it’s covered and refrigerated.
Do a lot of these strategies require a ton of time, effort, or money? Absolutely not. What they do require, though, is common sense and vigilance. Look, most folks are more concerned with preparing that perfect burger or steak than they are about safety, but it’s essential that you stay attentive of the basics. Keep the health and safety of your friends at family at the forefront this summer.
Do you know of any other tips for safe summer grilling?