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Fire up the Grill, but Keep it Safe

It doesn’t get any better than a sunny day backyard barbecue party with friends, family and a cool drink in hand!  Sometimes the primary focus might not be on safety, but it should be.  According to the U.S. Product Safety Commission, over 3.5 million injuries occur annually due to warm weather activities such as outdoor grilling.  The good news is that with a few precautionary steps, you can ensure a safe cookout and peace of mind.

General Grill Safety

  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
  • Never leave a grill unattended.
  • All types of grills are for outdoor use only.
  • Grills should be placed well away from buildings, deck railings and out from under eaves.
  • Do not move a hot grill.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher and baking soda handy to put out those grease flare ups.

Gas Grills

Since the Clean Air Act of 1990, propane has become the clean, efficient and inexpensive fuel of choice for many households.  Here’s what you need to know when grilling with propane:

  • Inspect the cylinder of your propane tank for bulges, dents, gouges, corrosion, leaks, or evidence of extreme rusting.  Also, examine the hoses on your grill for brittleness, leaks, holes, cracks, or sharp bends. If you find any of these problems, it is time to replace the equipment.
  • Be sure to keep propane tanks upright, and move gas hoses away from dripping grease and hot surfaces.
  • Never use cigarettes, lighters, or matches near your gas grill, whether it’s in use or not. You can’t be sure that there’s not a slight gas leak somewhere in the unit, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
  • Never try to remove a valve from a propane tank.  The consequence could be a powerful explosion.
  • Never bring a propane tank indoors or store other flammable liquids near propane tanks.
  • When transporting a propane tank, be mindful that a hot car will increase the pressure inside the tank, raising the possibility of explosion.  Consider transporting on a cool day.
  • It is dangerous to throw away a propane tank in the trash.  Always discard empty tanks responsibly through a municipal collection program.
  • Grease easily accumulates in the bottom of a gas grill, creating the possibility of lethal flare ups.  A clean grill is a safer grill.

Charcoal Grills

You can’t beat the mesquite and hardwood flavors of charcoal grilling.  To avoid the hazards, keep in mind the following precautions:

  • Charcoal grills produce CO (carbon monoxide).  Keep charcoal grills outside at all times.
  • To avoid setting oneself on fire, do not wear loose clothing or long sleeves.  Use long handled utensils.
  • Use lighter fluid on new coals only.  Using lighter fluid on already lit coals is extremely dangerous.
  • Wait until coals have completely burned and cooled before disposing into a metal container.

The American Institute for Cancer Research has determined that HCA’s (heterocyclic amines) are present in meats that are cooked on outdoor grills.  Fortunately there are plenty of precautions that can reduce the risks.

  • Marinate meats for at least 12 hours.  There is evidence that properly marinated meats can reduce HCA formation by as much as 99%.
  • Consider kabobs.  Kabobs cooked more quickly than larger pieces of meat.  The less time spent on the grill, the better.
  • Grill meat at low temperatures and flip frequently to avoid charring.
  • Remove burnt or blackened pieces of meat before eating.
  • Trim fat from meat before grilling to prevent flare-up borne charring.

Safe Meat Temperatures

For grilling beginners, a digital thermometer will provide an exact readout of internal meat temperatures.    Experienced grill masters can determine when to pull the meat from the grill by simply touching the meat with their fingers. For certain meats, the internal temperature is a matter of personal preference.  It is particularly important to get poultry and pork up to temperature to kill any salmonella or trichinella present.  Check out this chart as a useful guide:

Photo Credit: schreiblockade via Compfight cc

Copyright © Integrated Concepts 2012. Some articles in this newsletter were prepared by Integrated Concepts, a separate, nonaffiliated business entity. This newsletter intends to offer factual and up-to-date information on the subjects discussed, but should not be regarded as a complete analysis of these subjects. The appropriate professional advisers should be consulted before implementing any options presented. No party assumes liability for any loss or damage resulting from errors or omissions or reliance on or use of this material.

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