Don’t Burn the Meal … Or Your House

by admin on January 23, 2013 · 4 comments

Whether you spell it BBQ, barbecue or barbeque or something in between and whether you use the word as a noun or a verb, barbecue (that’s how it’ll be spelled here) in all cases involves fire and a grill. And that means it Dont burn the house downcould pose a danger to your home.

There are lots of ways to prepare the delicious dish you’re cooking – whether it involves port, beef, chicken, fish or even lobster. You might use gas or charcoal – or even wood in some cases – as the fuel. You could be using vinegar-, tomato-, mustard- or even butter-based sauce. You could even use a dry rub. But regardless of any of the choices you make, a few safety tips will make sure you don’t end up cooking the house as well as your main course.

Think it’s not worth worrying about? The National Fire Protection Association says gas grills are involved in about 6,900 home fires a year. Charcoal and other solid-fuel grills are involved in about 1,100 fires annually. The risks, however, can be minimized. Before you light the gas or charcoal, consider the following:

Gas grills

  • Before you fire up the grill this spring, check the cylinder hose for leads – an easy way to do this is by applying soapy water, turning on the tank and watching for bubbles. If you see bubbles or smell a gas odor, turn the tank and grill off immediately.
  • You should also check the grill for spiders and spider webs. The webs, nests and eggs can block tubes and obstruct the flow of gas to the burner, causing a “flashback” fire behind the gas panel.
  • Get the right kinds of grilling tools. That will keep you from reaching across flames when you’re turning your meat.

Charcoal grills

  • Only use charcoal lighter fluid. Never use gasoline or kerosene to make charcoal more flammable.
  • Don’t add lighter fluid once the coals are lit.
  • Be aware of how strong the wind is and what direction it’s blowing in.
  • Let ashes cool completely before disposing of them. Be aware they can retain heat for a good while even after they appear to be out. To dispose of them, wrap them in foil and place them in a noncombustible container.

Charcoal and gas grills

  • Never, ever use either type inside. You can store the grills themselves in the garage during winter. If you’re storing a gas grill in the garage, remove the propane tank first. You cannot store the tank inside under any circumstances. It must remain outside and should not be near any potential heat source.
  • Make sure your grill is at least 10 feet away from the house or any building.
  • Make a no-children (and no pets if you can help it) zone when you’re cooking, and continue to enforce it until the grill cools off.
  • Have a fire extinguisher on hand.
  • Do not wear flowing, loose clothing.
  • Don’t leave grills unattended, even for a few seconds. Flare-ups from grease can present a problem.
  • Don’t drink while cooking. You need to concentrate on what you’re doing. You can have a cold beverage with the meal.

Follow these tips and chances are you’ll be receiving curtain calls for your cooking instead of making emergency calls to fire departments. And you’ll get to enjoy the meal, too.

This article was contributed by Arthur Murray, who writes for Arthur has more than 30 years of experience writing for newspapers and magazines. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism.

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