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Along with beautiful weather, the joy of summer brings more barbeques than we can keep up with. Something about food fresh off the grill puts a smile on just about every ones face.  Although summer barbeques are joyous occasions, there is danger lurking. Grilling causes 5,700 home fires annually causing over $37 million in damages; and in 2012 alone 16,900 patients went to emergency rooms due to injuries involving grills. This post will cover some basic grilling guidelines along with important differences between propane and charcoal grills.

Anytime Grill Tips

Rule number one: only use a grill outside. That rule pretty much goes without saying, and the next seems just as rudimentary, but often goes overlooked. You are supposed to have a three-foot “safe zone” around your entire grill, including distance from your home, deck, and railings. Be sure to keep the grill manual and a fire extinguisher within the vicinity. Do not forget to clean grease and residue from the grate and trays below to avoid grease fires. Keep an eye on where children are in relation to a hot grill and never leave a grill unattended with active flames. It takes a long time for grills to cool off so be sure stay attentive after cooking.

Charcoal Tips

Charcoal grills are true classics that bring an old world scent to the air and taste in the food. Safety must still be first on your mind and specific guidelines need to be followed. When loading the briquettes into the grill it is best to build them into pyramids. There are alternatives to using starter fluids when igniting a charcoal grill, such as charcoal chimney starters, but if you choose to use starter fluid be sure to wait for it to soak in before lighting. Also remember only use charcoal starter fluid if using a flammable liquid to ignite the fire and never add fluid after the fire has started. Once lit keep all flammable objects at a safe distance from the fire.  When discarding coals be sure that all of the embers are out (coals can stay warm for 48+ hours). Wrap the used coals in heavy-duty aluminum foil and place in a noncombustible container.

Propane Tips

The majority of grills around the country are propane grills. Propane grills come with their own risks and guidelines. Along with the general safety rules, you need to monitor your tank and the hoses connecting the tank to the grill. Before using the grill for the first time of the season, be sure to check the hose for possible leaks. To check for leaks, apply a light soap and water solution to the hose with a brush or spray bottle, turn on the tank and watch for bubbles forming on the hose, if there are no bubbles your grill is safe. Whenever turning the grill off wait at least 15 minutes before relighting. If you smell gas while the grill is on turn it off and if the smell continues call the fire department immediately. 

Grill Brush Safety

This may seem like an odd topic to receive its own section. Many people do not know this, but there has been a rise in documented cases of people ingesting metal shavings and bristles from metal grill brushes. As I mentioned before, it is important to keep a clean grill and metal brushes are a great way of getting tough residue off. After using a metal brush be sure to inspect the grilling surface to ensure no metal is left behind and if necessary, do a supplementary wiping with a damp cloth. Here is an article from the CDC that cites some cases.

To ensure you, your family, and friends have the best summer possible, follow these guidelines. Nothing is more important than the safety of your loved ones. Don’t be another statistic, take the time and grill safe.

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