The Perfect Barbecue – Don’t Get Burned

Hosting the Perfect Barbecue

With summer just around the corner (yes, it’s hard to believe it’s not summer yet with 100-degree temps!), families are getting ready for road trips or planning barbecues. Wannabe chefs and pit masters eagerly wheel out their grills and pits with visions of perfect backyard barbecue parties dancing in their heads.

It’s the time of the year when people take the opportunity to showcase their new pellet smokers or grilling machines. They’re updating their homespun recipes too. Preparations are in full swing but are safety precautions included on the grilling menus?  Probably not…

Food for thought

We aren’t the only ones excited about the approach of grilling season though.  Fire departments and insurance companies are keeping an eye out too… a wary eye, that is.

According to the home fire statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a good 70% of households in America own at least a BBQ outdoor, griller, and smoker.  About 64% of households own a gas griller.

Most home fires reported during the months of May, June, July, and August are caused by grills or are BBQ-related. The number is highest during the month of July. Even ERs report a huge increase of burns thanks to the grilling season.

You can still showcase your backyard culinary prowess but keep safety in mind. You can prevent any unfortunate incidents from ruining the most anticipated summer activity if you remember to put safety tips first.

Safety tips when hosting the perfect barbeque

Accidents can happen and endanger the home, family members, and guests if proper precautions aren’t taken.

1. Find a safe zone for your cooking station

Before inviting people to your barbecue, identify a suitable location for your fire pit or cooking station. The actual grilling place should be a safe distance (at least 10 feet away) from the house as well as your neighbor’s house.

Grilling should always be done outdoor and confined within a specified safe zone. Fires are an accident waiting to happen if you attempt to grill inside the house, garage, trailer, or tent. Fire paired with inhalation of high levels of carbon monoxide can immobilize, if not cause irreparable health damage.

The grilling device should stand on flat, stable ground. If the grill isn’t level or is on uneven ground, it can easily tip over or can cause burning charcoal or pellets to roll off unnoticed.

2. Learn to use your grill properly

Whether you’re using charcoal, gas or electricity, you’re dealing with fire and heat. Any type of grill presents a fire hazard when in use so it’s best to know how to use your cooking device.

The traditional charcoal grill

If you’re after the genuine ‘open flame’ flavor, be sure to cover the grill base with enough charcoal. The more charcoal briquettes you use, the more carbon monoxide is emitted. Use a fire chimney or lighter fluid to start your fire.  Avoid using kerosene or gas at all cost.

When grilling starts, don’t stand over the BBQ and smell the smoke of the grilling meat as the charring process creates carcinogens which are known to be cancer-causing.

Keep in mind that the ‘open flame’ method requires constant monitoring and shouldn’t be left unattended. There’s also the wind factor to consider that can blow burning ashes from the pit to flammable objects. Fire can easily spread in the summer heat.

The gas grill

Many BBQ fanatics prefer gas grills over charcoal. Preparation is less tedious, however, there are more gas grill fires reported than charcoal.

The main cause of the fire is a gas leak. If you want your gas grill to be and stay at peak performance, conduct a safety check first. Prepare a water and liquid soap solution and rub it on the hoses and connections as you turn gas on while keeping the grill lid open.

If you see bubbles while the gas is on, it means there is a hole, tear, or other type of leak. Replace the hose or tighten the connection whichever the case may be.

If you haven’t cleaned the tubes running from the burner to the control valves, do so. Rid the gas pathway of insect nests, accumulated dust, and other dirt. These elements can obstruct gas flow and result in uneven flame and cooking. Rusted gas burners should also be replaced.

Another dangerous component in gas grilling is an overfilled or expired liquid propane gas cylinder. Be sure the gas content is sufficient and spare cylinders are stored outdoors.

Electric smokers

When electric smokers were introduced, BBQ enthusiasts were ecstatic. A new and revolutionary method just made barbeque more convenient and hassle-free.

The “smoke now, come back later” is the salient feature much like the fully automatic washing machine. While they aren’t cheap, they make smoked meats something even people with busy schedules can enjoy.

Electric smokers are loved because they are smoke-free, have easy temperature control, require less monitoring, and affords plenty of time entertain guests. Some models have the bigger cooking capacity for large parties.

3. Dress up and gear up for the occasion

A barbeque party host should be dressed and geared up for the occasion. Loose clothing is not the appropriate attire but a tightly secure apron and complementing flame-retardant mitts or gloves would be the best choice. Keep hand towels safely tucked inside apron pockets.

Always use long-handled tongs for gripping and flipping cooking meat. Have a spray bottle of water within reach in case of minor flare-ups.

Grease and smoke from meat drippings can sometimes ignite flare-ups which can lead to a fire. That’s one reason why you need a fire extinguisher in close proximity too. Contain grease fires with baking soda instead of water.

It’s better to use silicone or nylon tongs, brushes, and spatulas instead of metal or steel tools that will chip coated grate. You don’t want shards of metal or brush pieces sticking to your steak.

4. After-party clean up

The clean-up activity after a successful barbecue is equally important as the party itself. Remember the barbecue you hosted could possibly be one of many this summer.

Cap your event by cleaning up properly at the end of the day. The barbecue grill needs to be thoroughly cleansed by rinsing it in warm water mixed with dish-washing liquid. Scrub the grill with a stiff-bristled brush until any leftover grease and meat residue are removed.

Anyone can be a grill master

Anyone with a fondness for barbecue can become a grill master in the backyard. While the method varies from grill to grill, the common denominator to hosting the perfect barbecue is keeping a proactive eye when it comes to safety.

Regardless of the festivities you have planned, proper precautions should be taken whenever fire is involved. Your planning could amount to nothing if you disregard safety tips. There won’t be a food frenzy, a holiday celebration, or backyard enjoyment if fire crashes your BBQ.