Every year, millions of people celebrate blue skies and warm weather with an outdoor cookout. Whether you’re planning your Memorial Day, July 4th, or Labor Day picnic or simply want to throw some steaks on the grill, there are some simple steps you can take to stay safe while you cook.
It may seem like common sense, but if you have a gas or propane grill, it should only be used outside. Place it in a well-ventilated area, away from any hanging branches or flammable items like deck railings.
Even if your grill isn’t lit, keep children and pets at least 3 feet away to prevent harm. Grills can easily cause burn injuries even after you’re done cooking, so it’s best to keep the area around them clear. While you’re grilling, never leave a lit grill unattended.
Always use utensils designed specially for grilling. These typically have longer handles so the intense grill heat won’t burn you.
Once you’re done cooking, be sure to clean the grills and trays of grease and fat. This helps to keep the surface more sanitary. However, also make sure to get the right tool for the job. The metal bristles of a wire grill brush can break off as you scrub, meaning the next time you cook you could end up with some unwanted surprises in your food. Some companies make bristle-free grill brushes, which can keep you safe and your grill sparkling clean.
There are some extra safety steps you can take depending on whether you have a gas or charcoal grill.
Using some kind of starter can help you get going quickly. If you want to use newspaper to get a flame going, try using a chimney starter. Another option is starter fluids for charcoal grills. Only use charcoal starter fluids—never use gasoline and never add flammable liquids to a fire. If you do use charcoal fluid, be sure to keep it away from children and heat sources. A third option is to use an electric starter.
When you are done cooking, always let the charcoal briquettes cool completely. Then, and only then, should you remove them. Be sure to use a metal container for this type of waste.
It’s important to check your gas grill the first time you use it each season. Changing weather or other factors can cause the hose to form holes. Mix a little bit of dish soap with water and apply it lightly to the hose—a leak will cause bubbles to form. If you smell a leak or notice bubbles forming, turn off the gas and the grill. Keep observing to see if the leak stops. If it does, be sure to get your grill serviced before trying to use it again.
If the leak doesn’t stop, call the fire department.
Make sure the grill’s lid is open before lighting it. This prevents gas from building up, and can prevent you from getting burned.
If you smell gas while you are cooking, get away and call the fire department. If the flame goes out, turn both the grill and gas off and wait 5 minutes. Then you can reignite the grill.