With gas and charcoal grills causing thousands of fires and millions of dollars in property loss each year, it’s important to know how to grill safely. Follow these tips so your next barbecue doesn’t go up in flames:
- Before using, position your grill at least three feet away from other objects, including the house and any shrubs or bushes.
- Only use starter fluid made for barbecue grills when starting a fire in a charcoal grill.
- Before using a gas grill, check the connection between the propane tank and the fuel line to be sure it is working properly and not leaking.
- Never use a match to check for leaks. Instead, rub soapy water onto the gas hose and turn the gas on. If there is a leak, you will see bubbles appear. Buy a new hose before using the grill again.
- Never bring a barbecue grill indoors or into any unventilated space. This is both a fire and carbon monoxide poisoning hazard.
- Designate the grilling area a "No Play Zone" keeping kids and pets well away until grill equipment is completely cool.
- Keep a garden hose or a bucket of water nearby in order to put out a flame in an emergency or to use on a burn.
Also, before you fire up the grill, be sure to remind yourself of the basic precautions you should take when buying and cooking meat and poultry:
- When shopping, place packages of raw meat and poultry in plastic bags to guard against cross-contamination, which can happen when raw meat or poultry juices drip onto other food.
- Once home, refrigerate meat and poultry immediately. Poultry and ground meat that will not be used within 1 to 2 days should be frozen; freeze other meat within 4 to 5 days.
- Meat and poultry can be marinated for several hours or days to tenderize or add flavor. Marinate meats to be grilled in the refrigerator, not on the counter, so bacteria won't have a chance to grow.
- Keep meat and poultry refrigerated until ready to use. Take out only the meat and poultry that will immediately be placed on the grill.
- Use separate cutting boards and containers for meats and for vegetables to avoid bacterial cross-contamination between foods.
- Wash all utensils and plates that have come in contact with raw meat before using them for cooked foods.
- Cook food to a safe internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. For steak, 145°F; ground meat, at least 160°F; poultry, at least 165°F; fish, 145°F.
- Serve food immediately, if possible. When the outdoor temperature is 90°F or higher, serve within an hour. Otherwise, perishable food should be served or refrigerated within two hours after it is cooked.