Hot off the Grill Safety News

Sizzling steaks and hamburgers hot off the grill are a great summer tradition.  There is nothing quite like the flavour of barbequed food and cooking outdoors also helps to keep your home cool.  Not surprisingly, more than half of all homeowners own a grill.  With all this cooking, come many accidents.  The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that there are more than 8,000 house fires started by grill use each year in theUnited Statesalone.  Consider these important safety tips:

Check Equipment

Check hoses and connections on gas grills periodically throughout the grilling season. Replace any cracked or brittle hoses before turning on the unit.

The NFPA suggests this method to check for leaks in hoses:

1. Apply a solution of liquid soap and water to the hose using a brush or spray bottle.

2. Turn the propane tank on. If there is a gas leak, the propane will release bubbles around the hole(s) in the hose.  If you have leaks, turn off the tank immediately ensuring the valves are tight then have your grill serviced by a professional before using it again.

The Canadian Propane Association also recommends that you clean the tubes between the gas valve and the burner, as blockages can occur due to insects.  In many cases, debris in the tubes is the reason barbecues start ‘blowing out’ when they previously worked well.

Propane Grills

Always open the barbecue lid before lighting.  As you are cooking, if you smell gas, immediately turn off the tank and burners.  There should be no gas odour as you cook.  If you are smelling gas, this is a strong indication of a leak in a hose or valve with a real possibility of an explosion.  See the previous tip about how to check hoses.

Another important precaution involves cylinder storage.  Propane cylinders should never be stored inside a garage or other structure at any time.  Any small leak will eventually cause a build-up of carbon monoxide.  This gas is odourless and deadly.  The airborne propane molecules are also flammable.  Be sure to read the safety instructions on your cylinder particularly the storage and expiring information. 

Charcoal Grills

Some people love the simplicity and flavour of charcoal-grilled food.  There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use including igniting small pieces of wood or newspaper.  If you use starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid before lighting.  Never add flammable liquids to speed up cooking once the fire is going.  Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources. 

Let the coals completely cool before disposing of them in a metal container.  Some people like to bury their spent charcoal.  It is worth noting that most charcoal is treated with petroleum products to improve flammability, so avoid burying them in or near gardens, fruit trees, etc.  Since the charcoal will decompose and shrink in volume, a large pile of buried charcoal will eventually create a sink hole.  Spread out the charcoal or simply dispose in the trash.

Grease Fires

To help prevent grease fires, remove any accumulated grease and residue from inside the lid every five or six times that you use the grill.  Once the unit is completely cool, use the coarse side of a sponge dipped in soapy water to remove grease then rinse.  Remove any carbonized food from the coals to reduce smoke during cooking.

 

Location

Locate the grill no closer than three meters (10 feet) from your home and never under a porch, deck, overhang, carport, or in a garage.  Make sure the unit rests on a stable surface and cannot easily be tipped over.  If the grill has locking casters, make sure they are engaged.

Check for items that could fall or be blown by the wind onto hot surfaces.  Trim tree branches and ensure that decorations, strings of lights, etc. are secure and at a safe distance. 

Children and pets should never be allowed to run and play in the grilling area.  In addition to the risk of touching a hot surface, they could inadvertently tip the unit.  A dog’s leash can easily get wrapped about a barbeque with disastrous results.

Fashion Sense

Probably the last thing you think about when grilling is your wardrobe.  However loose-fitting clothing or shirts with wide sleeves can easily get too close to the grill and catch fire.  Also consider your footwear.  Drips of sizzling grease, or worse, an entire steak slipping off a tong onto your feet will impart nasty burns.  Closed-toe shoes and a durable apron are wise fashion choices.

Helpful Tools

Every grill chef should have these tools within reach:

-          Long-handled utensils to handle food while cooking.

-          Oven mitts.

-          Cold water to apply to the skin immediately in case of small thermal burns.

-          Baking soda, which can be used to extinguish a grease fire still contained within the grill unit.

-          A fire extinguisher, in case a fire gets out of control.

Enjoy your grill safely this summer!

 

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