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Outdoor Grilling Safety

General Grilling Safety

When grilling, dress for the occasion. Avoid loose clothing and sleeves that could dangle into the fire. Use long-handled grill tools to allow plenty of reach without getting too close to the fire. Keep a fire extinguisher and a spray bottle of water nearby to deal with flare-ups.

Grill Placement

Charcoal and propane gas grills must be used outdoors in a well-ventilated area. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 33 percent of home fires involving grills occur on an unenclosed porch or balcony. Another 18 percent occur on a patio, terrace or courtyard, and 11 percent start on an exterior house wall. These fires can be prevented by placing the grill away from trees and buildings and out from under roofs and overhanging branches. Also, make sure the grill is on a level surface away from high traffic and play areas.

Charcoal Grills

Use care when starting a charcoal grill. If using starter fluid, coat the briquettes with the starter fluid and wait approximately one minute for the fluid to soak in. Use a long match or grill lighter to light the briquettes. Never add starter fluid or other flammable liquids to the grill once the charcoal has been lit, even if the fire appears to have gone out. The briquettes will smolder but eventually catch. Allow 20 to 30 minutes for the charcoal to heat. After grilling, allow the coals to cool completely before removing them from the grill. Keep children and pets away from the hot grill.

Gas Grills

Gas grills are safe and convenient when used properly. When used without care, gas grills cause over 80 percent of all grilling related structure fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Always use gas grills outdoors in well-ventilated areas and open the lid before turning on the gas. Keep the lid open until the burners are lit, as a closed lid can allow gas to accumulate and cause an explosion. The first time you use your gas grill each year, and whenever moving it, check the gas tank and hoses for leaks. Spray or sponge a solution of water and liquid dish soap on the tank and hoses. Bubbles will form if there is a leak. If any bubbles are detected or if you smell gas, turn off the gas tank and grill and have the grill serviced before using it. Perform this check monthly during the grilling season. When finished grilling, scrape the grill clean, then turn the gas off at the burner and at the cylinder. Store extra gas containers outdoors away from the grill.

Grilling Food Safety

The same food safety rules apply when grilling outdoors. Keep raw meats separate from vegetables, fruits and prepared foods. Keep meat in a cooler until ready to grill. Outdoor heat allows bacteria to grow quickly. Check meats for doneness with a meat thermometer. Color and appearance are not good indicators that food has reached a safe temperature. Remove food from the grill onto a clean platter, using clean tongs. Do not allow any foods to sit out in hot weather for longer than one hour.

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