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How To Barbecue Safely

Aug 18, 2007
Ummmm! Ummm! Smells good! Somebody just broke out the gas grill, and the neighborhood is awash in the yummy smells of hamburgers, steaks, brats, and hot dogs. Just wants to make you smile, doesn't it? Or cry.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that more than 15,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year due to injuries associated with gas and charcoal grills.

However, there are ways to assure your grilling tears are limited to the culinary effect of slicing a thick, juicy Vidalia onion.

Getting Started

* Read and follow the manufacturer's instructions for your grill. Review them each year.

* Place the grill in an open area out of doors at least ten feet away from a building and away from pedestrian traffic. Keep it away from shrubbery and dry vegetation.

* Resist the temptation to cook in a garage, tent, house, or any other enclosed area when the weather is bad. Opening a garage door or window or using a fan may not reduce carbon monoxide to safe levels.

* Do not use a grill on top of or under any surface that will burn, such as a porch or carport. The wooden deck attached to your house is not a good place to barbecue.

* Wear a heavy apron, long pants and an oven mitt. Cover your forearms with a mitt that extends over your elbow, or wear a long-sleeved, close-fitting shirt.

* All tools should have long handles to keep your hands and clothing away from the heat and flames.

* Keep children and pets away from a hot grill. Never leave a lighted grill unattended.

* Reduce grease flare-ups by trimming excess fat. Keep a spray bottle of water handy. Use baking soda, a fire extinguisher, sand or a garden hose to control any fires.

* As soon as possible, clear away all your cooking equipment. This will assure kids don't get into it.

* If you use electric starters, accessories or a grill, be sure they are properly grounded. Never use them in wet weather.

Using Gas Grills

* Have your tank filled by a qualified dealer. Overfilling can be dangerous.

* Store the gas cylinder outside and be sure the gas is turned off at the tank to prevent unintentional ignitions. Leave it upright and in a cool area.

* Never use an LP cylinder if it shows any visual sign of damage.

* Never attach or disconnect a cylinder, or move or alter fittings, when the grill is in operation or hot.

* If the burner doesn't ignite quickly, turn off the gas and leave the lid open. Wait five minutes before you try to light it again.

* Check the hose(s) and connections frequently for leaks by using a soap-and-water mixture. Escaping gas will appear as bubbles. Tighten the connections, or call a professional to repair the grill.

* Clean the tubes annually with a bottle brush or pipe cleaner.

* Clean the grill twice a year. If you use a wire brush to clean the grill, be sure to wipe the grill with a cloth or paper towel to remove any wire strands.

* Be especially careful at the beginning of the barbecue season. Many incidents occur after a grill has been unused over a period of time, or after a gas container has been refilled and reattached.

* Do not attempt to repair the gas container valve or appliance yourself. See your LP gas dealer or a qualified repair person.

Charcoal And Other Fixings

* Use the starter fluids designated for your grill. Place the capped can and matches away from the grill. Never use gasoline or kerosene.

* If the coals start to flag or are slow to catch, fan them or use dry kindling and rolled-up newspaper to give a boost. Adding liquid fuel could result in a flash fire.

* If you use instant light briquettes, do not use lighter fluids or electric, solid or metal chimney style starters. If you need to add briquettes, add regular briquettes only.

* Close nearby windows and doors when cooking.

* When finished, close the vents and allow the ashes to cool 48 hours before disposing. Wrap them in heavy-duty aluminum foil and put them in a metal container that has no other combustible materials.
Be careful. Seemingly "dead" charcoal can re-ignite hours later. Soak with water for added safety.
About the Author
John Myre is the author of the award-winning book, Live Safely in a Dangerous World, and the publisher of the Safety Times Reproducible Articles..
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