Are you looking to be the king or queen of the grill this summer? Of course, you are. Everyone loves a good barbecue. It’s the perfect way to get to know your neighbors better or impress the in-laws with your killer kebabs.
But you can’t just fire up the grill and hope for the best. According to the National Fire Protection Association, grill fires on residential properties result in an estimated 10 deaths, 140 injuries, and $96 million in property damage every year.
To enjoy your brats in safety — and avoid an unnecessary 911 call — follow this practical guide to safe grilling:
1. Find a safe place for your grill
The easiest way to put your assets at risk is to light a fire inches away from your walls. Your grill should be far away from your home, pets, and children. It should also be in a clear area so you can extinguish and dispose of charcoal easily.
2. Set up your tool kit
Make sure you have the right tools for grilling ready to go before you begin. Choose spatulas and forks that can withstand heat and fire-retardant oven mitts. (Plastic sauce on your burgers will be the least of your worries if your tools catch on fire.)You should also keep a hose and fire extinguisher handy in case the worst should happen. You can buy a small, inexpensive fire extinguisher from DIY stores and websites, and it’s well worth the effort to know that you’ll be able to protect yourself and your home in the event of an emergency.
3. Know your grill
Always read your grill’s instruction booklet carefully before using it. I promise it won’t be a waste of time. If you’re cooking on a charcoal grill, flame management is your top priority. Do not leave your flame unattended, and promptly deal with hot charcoal. If you’re cooking on a gas grill, check your gas lines or propane tank lines regularly to ensure they’re properly connected. When you’re done cooking, turn off the gas supply and leave the grill to cool.
4. Pay attention to the weather
Most grill fires occur from 5-8 p.m. This is traditionally dinnertime, but it’s also when the light outside fades and the temperature begins to drop.ESPN anchor Hannah Storm found that in cooler temperatures, propane takes longer to evaporate. When she relit her grill too soon after turning it off on a cool night, she became a victim of severe burns. So be patient, let the grill cool, and make sure you have enough light in your grilling area to see what’s going on after it gets dark.
5. Don’t drink and grill
Alcohol decreases your reaction time, making you slow to respond to an emergency even if you’ve read the grill manual from cover to cover. Sure, it’s nice to grab a cold beer on a hot summer night, but make sure whoever is doing the grilling is sober. Find a designated griller to look after the meat, and reward him or her with the juiciest steak.
6. Don’t leave your grill in a hurry
It’s tempting to go inside when you’re done grilling and leave the mess for tomorrow. But failing to dispose of leftover charcoal or disconnect your gas could leave you very sorry in the morning.
Tidy up your grill area by removing leftover pieces of charcoal and ashes carefully. Always make sure you let them cool first and dispose of them in a metal trashcan instead of on the ground or in your regular garbage. Only go inside once you know it’s safe.
Don’t be the griller who has to dash to the emergency room in the middle of your barbecue. By following these safety tips, you can be the talk of the neighborhood for all the right reasons. It’s time to invest in an apron with your name on it, grill master.