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Smoke Without Fire

Posted: June 27, 2016

Grilling Safety Tips

Backyard barbecues are one of summer’s biggest perks. After months of being cooped up in your house eating regular fare prepared on a stove, the mild charring on your favorite foods and sweet tang of barbecue sauce tastes heavenly. And we’re certainly not alone in our barbecue obsession — 80% of Americans say that they attend at least one cookout in the summer. But as you’re hosting your next barbecue at home, we’re going to bet that there are two things you'll be thinking:

  1. Do not make everybody sick,
  2. Do not burn your house down.

So here’s our advice on avoiding a cookout catastrophe.


Properly man the grill

Essentially, your barbecue grill is a flaming pit of fire, so you definitely want to treat it as such. There are a few basic, but essential, best practices for properly manning your grill:

  • Only use your grill outdoors - An open garage is not a suitable place to fire up your pit. Your grill should be placed far away from foliage or any structures that could catch fire, especially your home. This means that wooden decks and overhanging branches should be avoided when settling on a grilling location.
  • Make sure that children and pets are kept away - Small children and pets have two things in common: They’re both very energetic and both are more likely to be unaware of how hot and dangerous a flaming grill is. One aggressive bump could send flames tumbling onto them. Distract kids and pets with other activities.
  • Keep your grill clean - Grease build-up is a common cause of flare-ups. Depending on what you’re cooking, a few pounds of grease could accumulate inside your grill after only a few uses, and lead to an uncontrollable blaze the next time you fire it up.
  • Never leave your grill unattended - Just as you shouldn’t leave your stove unattended, the same idea holds especially true for your grill. Don’t take your eyes off of it — not even for a second.

Practice food safety

If you aren’t careful with the way you handle the meats at your cookout, your partygoers could go home with more than just a doggie bag. Foodborne illness is the gift that keeps on giving for days after it’s received. The nice people at your outdoor party deserve better. Keep everyone happy and healthy by:

  • Washing your hands - If you’re touching raw meats, and then touching cooked food, you stand the risk of cross-contaminating the prepared food with bacteria from the raw meats. Frequent hand washing is the best way to prevent the accidental spread of illness-causing germs.
  • Cooking food thoroughly - Consuming undercooked meats can put your guests on the fast track to illness. Always use a food thermometer to ensure that food is cooked to the appropriate temperature. For hamburgers, aim for 160°F and for chicken, shoot for 165°F.
  • Properly storing food - Hot, cooked food should be kept at 140°F or higher, and cool foods like salads and fruit should be kept at or below 40°F.

With our advice in mind, you can be sure that your next outdoor party goes off without a hitch.