You know your way around a grill. That’s for certain. You’ve got all the tools a BBQ Master needs and you’re ready to do some industrial strength work on burgers, steaks and countless other items to build upon your legendary status. However, even a veteran can miss a crucial grilling safety step or two, leading to serious injuries.
We’re heading into the peak time of year when thousands of grill-related accidents occur, so here are several good tips to keep in mind before your next cookout. That way, your friends and family are more likely to savor the flavor of your grilling techniques, not remember a mishap near the barbeque.
Cut out the grease and fat – on your grill too
Brushing a grill isn’t just about keeping it clean. It’s just as much about protecting yourself against a potential grilling safety hazard. When you have excess grease or fat on the grill, it’s asking for a sudden flare-up to occur. So take a steel wool brush and remove that buildup before igniting the grill. Check your trays below the grill as well.
By the way, we’re all for flavor, but there’s only so much fat you need on your meats. It’s more than a health concern. It’s a safety one because it doesn’t take a lot of fat to fall into the grill and cause a flare-up.
Don’t wear or use just anything for grilling
While you might see old pictures of a Dad grilling in the backyard with an apron on, the reality is that aprons have their own issues for catching fire such as apron strings. Any element of clothing like this or a shirttail could accidentally get near the grill and start on fire, so avoid wearing anything with extra “frills” to it.
Similarly, we’ve also seen grill masters get burned by reaching for something that’s handy rather than safe to take meat off the hot grill. The best utensil is always one with long handles like tongs – a simple silverware fork isn’t going to be a good move if you experience an unexpected splatter or flare-up.
Do you smell gas? Shut it down.
If you’re cooking with propane, it’s easy to fire up the grill in no time without checking for gas leaks. First, take a close look at where you’ve connected your propane tank hose to the regulator and cylinder. Then examine how tight the hose is connected to the burners. If it’s loose in either area, tighten it up.
One of the easier ways to know if you’re dealing with a possible gas leak is “the bubble test.” Start by mixing dishwasher soap with water and applying it to the propane tank hose. Now turn the tank on to let gas flow into the hose. Do you see any bubbles coming up around the hose? If so, do not use the grill until you have it properly serviced. If there are no bubbles on the hose, the grill should be safe to operate.
Give yourself plenty of room to operate
Fire can be unpredictable and isn’t always easy to tame. With this in mind, the grill should be plenty far away from your home, children or pets in the yard or any materials that are conducive to catching fire easily. If a flame suddenly flares up higher into the air than normal, are there tree branches nearby that could be caught on fire? Could a spark get blown by the wind onto dry leaves? Allow for the extra space of several feet between the grill and these areas.
Never turn on the gas with the grill lid closed
This is one of the most frequent causes for burns associated with a gas grill and it can happen in the blink of an eye. All it takes is for someone to light a grill with a closed lid. In doing so, gas gets trapped inside the grill and can trigger a fireball once the person opens the grill lid. So always remember to keep the grill lid open as you’re turning on the gas to your grill.
Tailgating before a ballgame? Here’s the difference between a pro and rookie.
Sure, tailgating sounds like a good time – unless you haven’t made sure the grill has sufficiently cooled down before placing it back into your car. The body of a grill can remain hot for up to an hour after you’re done using it. So as a tip, turn the grill off well enough in advance of the start of the game. It’s no fun for you to tell everyone else in your party to head into the game while you wait for your grill to cool down.
Going back to what we mentioned about suitable space around the grill, a lot of activities could be going on in a parking lot area such as people throwing around a football, so be on high alert that a stray ball doesn’t knock over your hot grill.
Plan for the heat of the moment
A flare-up is out of control. What do you do? For one thing, don’t panic. Just like many fire safety plans, it’s best to prepare for the scenario to know exactly what your next step would be. In the case of grilling, having a fire extinguisher nearby is your best bet but a grease flare-up can call for a box of baking soda to extinguish it. If you’re grilling near the beach and in a pinch, grab a bucket of sand to douse the flames.
One of the most common culprits for creating a larger-than-usual flame is excessive use of lighter fluid. If the grill is already on or coals are already hot, do you need to add starter fluid at that point? Most of the time, the answer is no.
Even the most advanced BBQ Master can get burned
Great preparation can decrease the likelihood of an accident but there are no sure guarantees around a flame and certain conditions in the environment around you. So if a burn happens as a result of grilling, it’s important to act quickly with first aid. Many minor burns that involve redness and possible blistering call for cooling the burn with water – not ice – to help bring down the swelling and minimize the pain. A burn or blister should be covered with a sterile pad, which typically heals in time if the injury is truly minor.
However, some burns are far more severe in which the person has badly damaged skin tissue to demands swift medical attention. As someone else calls 9-1-1, don’t delay in cutting or tearing away clothing from the burn as well as removing any jewelry. Be careful not to force the issue, though – clothing that is stuck to a burn shouldn’t be removed. Use a dry, sterile pad that covers the burn. Another mistake is to give the burn victim a glass of water to drink when they may have inhaled smoke. If their airway appears swollen from smoke inhalation, eating or drinking anything may only create more of a danger.
Grilling: It’s a way of life. Let’s keep it that way.
The last thing you want to do when experiencing a burn injury from grilling is waiting too long for first aid. But if you don’t have the right first aid supplies handy, that’s exactly what might occur. Don’t wait and wonder – know that you’re covered with help from SOS Technologies for all your first aid needs. Head to our First Aid Supplies Order Form and you’ll find burn aid dressings, sprays, sterile pads, even a Vehicle First Aid Kit for when you’re going portable with your grill. You can order directly from our site or call SOS at 888.705.6100.
Get equipped for safety now and grill out with confidence all season long.
It’s A Matter Of Life And Life.