Five Tips for Getting Your Barbecue On
By Arthur Murray
You waited – not all that patiently – all winter for a chance to fire up the grill again and have a barbecue. But the weather in many parts of the country hasn’t been cooperative until recently.
You can almost taste the burgers or chicken or whatever your favorite barbecue fare is. But there are a few safety precautions you should take before you light the grill. Following are five things to do before you start cooking:
Prepare for the worst
Buy a fire extinguisher, and make sure you know how to use it. Why? According to the National Fire Prevention Association, there was an average of about 8,300 grill fires in the U.S. per year between 2006 and 2010. Putting out those fires quickly could sharply reduce the $75 million annually in property damage caused by grill fires.
Move it back
It almost goes without saying that you should only use propane and charcoal grills outside. Beyond that, you should move the grill well away from the house – probably even farther than you think. Be sure to keep clear of deck railings, eaves and overhanging branches. You should not move the grill once it’s ignited.
Before you light that gas grill, check the tank hose to make sure there are no leaks. One way to do this is to apply soapy water on the hose. Then turn on the gas: If it bubbles, you have a leak and a problem. Turn off the gas, and get the hose serviced by a professional. You should also check for spiders in the burner pipes and hoses; the webs can cause a backup and ignite the propane.
Never leave the grill unattended
This should be another no-brainer. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for chaise lounge chefs to put the food on the grill and then go inside for a beer or a bathroom break. This is a terrible practice on two fronts. One, you need to pay attention to the grill at all times while it’s lit. So not only shouldn’t you leave to get a beer, you shouldn’t be drinking beer while you’re cooking. Time enough for a cold one once you finish.
Establish a kids-free zone
Set up at least a three-foot child-free zone around the grill. The NFPA says grill burns led to about 7,800 emergency room visits in the U.S. in 2011. Children younger than 5 years old made up about 26% of the cases. That means you’ll need to mark the kid-free zone clearly and make sure your child understands the rules.
Make sure your menu includes a healthy helping of safety rather than a visit from the fire department or to the emergency room.