Grilling outdoors is a hobby that many Americans take pride in. It is never more evident than in summer months when the sun is out and the parks are packed with families firing up their BBQ’s to enjoy some great time off of work.
The problem is, according to the National Fire Protection Association, in the years 2007-2011, gas grills were the cause of an annual average of 7,200 home fires, while charcoal or other solid-fueled grills annually averaged 1,400 home fires.
These alarming facts prove that more precautions and safety measures need to be taken when using BBQ grills.
Each grill, propane grills and charcoal grills, have their own dangers.
For charcoal grills:
- Use only charcoal starter fluid if not using a charcoal chimney, and be sure to never add the charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquid directly to the fire.
- Keep charcoal fluid out of reach of children and far away from the grill.
- Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grill itself or any trays below the grill.
- Never leave your grill unattended.
For propane grills:
- Check the gas tank for leaks before using it for the first time each year.
- To check if there is a leak, apply a light concoction of soap and water to the gas tank hose and if a leak is present, the hose will bubble slightly.
- If there is a leak present turn off the gas tank and grill and get it serviced by a professional before using it again.
- If for some reason the leak does not stop after turning everything off, call the fire department!
- If for any reason you begin to smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill, without moving it, and call the fire department.
Unfortunately when barbecuing food, health concerns are not just limited to starting fires, but also the quality of the food that is being prepared.
When handling raw meat, it is very important that you take the necessary precautions before putting it on the grill to ensure you are eating food that is properly cooked. Here are the main things to remember even before you start cooking:
- The best ways to thaw your meat or poultry is either in the refrigerator, or in cold water, completely sealed. For quicker thawing, throw the meat in the microwave and use the defrost setting.
- When marinating your food, remember that poultry and stew meat do not last as long as beef, veal, pork, lamb roast, or steak.
- Do not use marinade that has touched raw meat on the finished product!
After all the necessary precautions have been taken and the food is on the grill, there are important things to think about so your meat can cook thoroughly and the end product can be as healthy and tasty as possible.
- Pre-cook meat and fish in the microwave for a minute to a minute and a half, to discard any juices before grilling. This is to cause fewer flare-ups, limiting exposure to harmful chemicals.
- Smaller cuts of meat take less time to cook which limits exposure to harmful chemicals as well.
- Flip burgers often: once every minute or so.
- Keep food at least six inches from the heat source.
- Avoid charring or over cooking meats.
- Cut away charred parts of meats before consuming them.
By following all of these tips, you will now be able to safely enjoy a magnificent, healthy barbequed meal!