When using a grill, it's important to take proper safety precautions to avoid accidents and injuries. Mostly, not setting yourself or anything else on fire is common sense, but here are a few tips and tricks that can improve safety and help you get the best from your grill.
General Safety Tips
Whether gas or charcoal, there are a few safe things to make sure of when you’re grilling:
· Definitely keep the grill away from flammable objects and make sure your grill is at least 10 feet away from any buildings or other flammable objects. Fences catch fire and ion extreme cases have even set fire to neighbouring buildings.
· Always keep an eye on the grill while it's in use, and don't leave it unattended.
· Long-handled tools are great. They stop you getting burned while handling hot coals and food on the grill. And use heat-resistant gloves and aprons to protect yourself from burns and spitting food.
· Keep a fire extinguisher, baking soda, or sand nearby in case of a fire. Do not move the grill once it's lit, and ensure it is placed on a stable, non-flammable surface.
· Use separate utensils and cutting boards for raw and cooked foods to prevent cross-contamination. What’s really important is to make sure your meat is cooked thoroughly to kill harmful bacteria. Charcoal BBQs are notorious for undercooked food, where it might be charred on the outside and undercooked inside.
Charcoal Grilling Safety
Traditionalists say that grilling over charcoal delivers a distinct smoky flavour to your food. While charcoal grilling can be an authentic experience, a few extra measures ensure your outdoor adventure stays fun. With a little thought, you can enjoy the flavours of your charcoal-grilled dishes without setting light to anything other than the coals.
When lighting charcoal, if possible, avoid using lighter fluid or other accelerants as they can lead to flare-ups and cause injuries. A charcoal chimney starter is a great invention and easily the best way to get your coals to the right temperature, fast. The chemical taste from lighting fluid can get into your food.
Charcoal grills produce carbon monoxide, a colourless and odourless gas that can be dangerous in enclosed spaces. That means, always use your charcoal grill in a well-ventilated area or outdoors to prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide.
And once you're done grilling, allow the coals to cool completely before disposing of them. Never dispose of hot coals in a plastic bin.
Gas BBQ Safety
Gas grills offer convenience and precision when it comes to outdoor cooking, allowing you to control temperatures with ease. It’s this that makes them popular. But not looked after properly, gas carries risks. You’ll need to consider cylinder inspection, proper ignition methods, gas leak detection and appropriate maintenance routines to keep your gas BBQ experience safe.
Before grilling, always check the propane cylinder for damage or rust before use. If you suspect a leak, turn off the gas and check the connections. Applying a solution of soapy water on the connections and hoses helps detect any leaks. Bubbles will form if there's a gas leak.
It’s a good idea to open the grill lid before turning on the gas too. This prevents a buildup of gas inside and use long matches or a proper lighter to ignite the burner. As with any flame, keep your hand and body as far away from the grill as possible.
Safety includes regularly inspecting and cleaning the burners, grates and grease tray. Any built-up food debris can lead to flare-ups and fires.
After grilling, always turn off the gas at the cylinder as well as the burners on the grill. And if storing a propane tank, keep it outdoors in an upright position and away from direct sunlight and other flammable materials.
BBQ fires can be caused by a variety of factors, and it’s often a combination of user error, equipment malfunction and outside conditions that are the cause.
Accumulated grease and food particles can cause flare-ups. Using lighter fluid, gasoline, or other accelerants can lead to rapid and dangerous flames. Gas leaks and poorly ventilated space can be toxic and flammable. Wind can blow embers or flames onto nearby objects, such as trees, fences, or buildings, causing fires to spread.
But with a few precautions you can avoid these and enjoy your grilling experience without worry.