Enjoy an outdoor barbecue with friends and family, but keep your cooking safe.
Each year, fire departments respond to an estimated 6,500 grill fires, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. And if contending with fire hazards wasn't enough, grilling warriors also have to worry about the risk of food poisoning while juggling raw and cooked ingredients on and off the grill. To make your backyard cookouts all smashing successes this summer, commit these safety tips to memory.
- Pick the right area to grill. Position your grill in an open area away from your house, garage, balcony and trees.
- Protect your children. Create a "no-go" area at least three feet around the grill and don'’t let children approach it.
- Tend to your grill at all times. If you have to step away, assign another adult to check on your food.
- Keep extinguishers nearby. Have a fire extinguisher, a garden hose and a bucket of sand close at hand in case a fire gets out of control.
- Take care when using lighter fluid. Add charcoal lighter fluid when coals are dry, never when they're ignited. Apply lighter fluid and then wait a minute before lighting—this reduces the concentration of harmful vapors you'd otherwise inhale. Always wear an insulated barbecue mitt when lighting coals.
- Avoid flare-ups. Trim fat on your meat so the fatty juice doesn't cause too many sudden flames.
- Soak kebab skewers. Before placing wooden skewers on the grill, soak them in water for 20 to 30 minutes to keep them from burning.
- Finish up grilling, the right way. When you're done grilling, it's best to close the hood on the grill and close the dampers to smother the coals. If it's a gas grill, be sure to turn off the gas at the tank and at the burners.
- Never reuse leftover marinades from raw ingredients. Reusing marinades as a sauce creates cross-contamination of your food.
- Always cover and refrigerate marinated food until you're ready to cook. Food that's sitting out in the hot sun is a recipe for a food poisoning disaster.
- Bring the food almost to room temperature just before grilling so it'll cook more evenly. You'll avoid cold spots and can make sure that all areas of thefood are cooked to the proper temperature.