It’s warming up outside, which means we’re about to get elbow-deep in BBQ season. Along with fun summer days and lazy summer evenings are family nights grilling delicious food and enjoying one another’s company. All this talk of BBQ also means it’s time to talk bbq safety. Because while backyard grills may be commonplace, that doesn’t mean they’re without their own set of safety issues. Grill safety starts with a sprinkling of vigilance and a side of precaution.
Here are 7 grilling safety tips to keep your summer grilling season as safe as it is delicious:
1. Read Your Owner’s Manual
We know — no one likes to read the manual. Especially for a grill, which seems self-explanatory, right? Turn it on, cook the meat.
Yeah, no. This is one manual you should read. Every grill works a little differently, and you need to understand specific usage for your new backyard tool to ensure grill safety. Also, if you’re assembling your barbecue, you’ll want to be extra careful that you don’t miss anything. You really, really don’t want a leftover screw from this project.
2. Prepare for Flames
Charcoal or propane, your grill uses raw fire. (And it tastes so good.) Chances are you won’t have a problem, but you should always be prepared for a rogue flame to jump out. Always keep a fire extinguisher close at hand to stay safe.
Additionally, you should keep basic burn first aid in your house and make sure it’s easily accessible. And never, ever leave your grill unattended. Fire is fire, no matter how contained it appears to be.
3. Where There’s Fire, There’s Smoke
Smoke lends great flavor to food, but it can also be dangerous. There’s the carbon monoxide and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) to consider, not to mention the fact that a coughing fit from breathing in a bit too much smoke can cause serious distraction. Our tip: Step away (but don’t look away!) from your grill while the food cooks.
4. Ventilation Is Your Friend
When it comes to both fire and smoke, ventilation is the name of the game. Install your grill in an open area, away from high-traffic spots, roof overhangs and combustibles like plants and leaves. Bonus points if you keep your grill more than a few feet from the house. (A good breeze can whip sparks around like you wouldn’t believe.)
5. Gear Up
If you love your grill, you’ll love this grill safety tip: Get the right gear. That’s right, you’re going grill accessories shopping. A spark-resistant grilling apron, long-handled tools, a grill mat, flame-retardant mitts, and other gear can keep you, your family, and your home safe.
6. Keep it Clean
No, we’re not just talking about your jokes (though you should probably follow our advice in that respect, too). A clean grill means a safer grill, since fat and grease buildup can be a fire hazard. Make sure you always scrape off the grates and clean other surfaces of the grill before using.
7. Stay Close
It’s tempting to fire up the grill and then head back inside to watch the big game, you’ll be breaking one of the most obvious the rules of Grill Safety 101. Stepping away from the grill increases the risk of fire or injury to kids or pets that may be playing nearby. So stay close, while making sure the kids and pets keep a safe distance.
Are Propane Grills Safe?
Though we’ve given you a slew of BBQ safety tips, we don’t mean to give you the wrong impression. Propane grills are actually very safe when you’re using them properly. We’re not here to cause undue stress over your next grilling party. Just make sure you know how your grill works and take all the right precautions, and you’ll have a great time—and an even better meal.
How to Put Out a Grill Fire
No matter how safe your grill is, we advise all BBQers to know how to put out a grill fire. Here’s what to do:
- Turn off the knobs. (If you can reach them safely.)
- Smother the fire with sand, salt, baking soda, or some other non-flammable material. (Never put water on a grease fire!)
- Put the lid over the flames.
- If the fire is still raging after about 30 seconds, use the fire extinguisher on the flames.
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