STILLWATER – While a fire in the grill under some juicy hamburgers, tasty hotdogs or some great tasting vegetables is a welcome sight, keeping safety in mind for everyone around is a must, said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist.
“There isn’t too much that’s better than an old fashioned family cookout. However, safety must be your first concern during grilling season,” Peek said.
Placement of your outdoor grill, whether it be charcoal or propane, is essential. Keep it at least 10 feet or more from your home and everything attached to your home, such as carports, porches, decks, deck railings and garages, as well as all vehicles. Also, grills should not be placed under wooden overhangs or under tree branches, and never use a charcoal or propane grill indoors.
Be sure to check for gas leaks. Make a solution of half liquid dish soap and half water and rub it on the hoses and connection, then turn on the gas. Make sure the lid of the grill is open while checking for leaks to prevent gas from building up. If the soap forms large bubbles, that is a sign the hoses have tiny holes or the connections are not tight enough. “Don’t try to repair the tank valve yourself. It’s best to leave that to the professionals,” she said.
Peek also pointed out to never leave a lit grill unattended and to keep children and pets away from the grilling area.
When lighting the grill, make sure the lid is always up. Gas can build up inside the grill and cause an explosion. Also be sure to keep the grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup in the tray below.
“If you’re using a charcoal grill, use a charcoal chimney to start the coals,” she said. “When using lighter fluid, use only the type designed specifically for charcoal. And never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire. Also, be sure to store the lighter fluid away from heat sources.”
Peek also recommends keeping a spray bottle of water, as well as a fire extinguisher nearby. It will come in handy for small flare-ups and the water will not hurt the foods you are grilling.
“Something else I recommend during grilling season is to keep a small fire extinguisher handy and be sure you know how to use it before you may possibly need it,” she said. “During an actual fire emergency is not the time to be reading the operation instructions. If your fire starts to get out of control, call 911 immediately.”
When placing foods on the grill, be sure to not overload it, especially if you’re cooking fatty meats.
“If too much fat drips on the flames, it can cause a large flare-up very quickly,” Peek said.
In addition, never leave the grill unattended. Fires can double in size every 60 seconds. Plan ahead and make sure all of your grilling prep work is done ahead of time so you can devote 100 percent of your attention to the grill.
“Summertime is a great time for family and friends to gather in the backyard for a barbecue,” she said. “Using these safety tips will help ensure an enjoyable time together.”