I love summer, it’s that time of year that everyone loves to get out and have a barbeque. The neighbourhood is filled with that delicious aroma of cooking meat and wood fires. If it’s on a gas smoker, a propane grill or a good old-fashioned fire pit it all boils down to the same thing. Good food, good times and even better memories. Cooking barbeque something that I feel brings us back to our roots and makes me feel very primal, I can’t get enough of it. Something we all forget about though is grill safety.
Lighting up the barbeque is something that many of us do so often that it has become second nature to us and we forget that we are using some dangerous gear. We need to be vigilant around our grills, smokers and fire pits. Think grill safety. Every year thousands of people worldwide are the victims of slips, trips & falls, burns and food poisoning from being careless around the grill.
This is by no means a step-by-step guide or strict instructions on how to behave around a barbeque, it’s more of a reminder how we can all be safer around the barbeque. The last thing you want while you are having a great barbeque is a trip to the emergency room.
Here are My 10 Things to Keep in Mind When You Are Next Grilling, Smoking or Barbequing!
- Staying Fire Safe And Brushing up On Your Fire Knowledge
- Reading Your Instruction Manual
- The Location Of Your Grill
- Keep Your Food Safe
- Being Aware Of Smoke And The Harm It Can Cause
- Charcoal Safety And Lighting Your Grill
- Checking Your Gas Lines
- Being Aware Of How Much Grease Is Building Up
- Eliminating Cancer-Causing Char
- Avoiding Alcohol
- Final Thoughts
- Related Post
Staying Fire Safe And Brushing up On Your Fire Knowledge
Obviously when you are grilling, smoking and barbecuing there is some sort of fire involved. Fire is one of the most destructive forces out there & you are inviting it into your backyard for a little get together. The number one thing you need to have handy is a fire extinguisher. Secondly, you need to know about the different types of fire and how each fire behaves. Each fire type needs a different method of extinguishing. Every summer smokers & grills cause hundreds of injuries, thousands of fires, dozens of deaths and millions of dollars in damages You need to know how to quickly disable the fuel supply, extinguish any fire and call the fire department.
Always be sure to have someone to guard the fire and a designated person to call the fire department in an emergency, the last thing you want is for no one to call because everyone thought someone else would do it.
Reading Your Instruction Manual
The good old instruction manual. As men, it’s something that we overlook for almost everything. When it comes to barbeque it is worth sucking up your pride and giving the instruction manual a read. There are many dangerous elements to the grill and safety should be your number one concern – not your delicious brisket!
Barbeque technology has remained the same for many years, however, not all smokers, grills or propane bottles work the same. When you get something new read up about it, you might just prevent an accident.
The Location Of Your Grill
The location of your grill is something that is quite often overlooked. We normally get excited and just set up where is convenient. Somewhere in your instruction manual, it will give you some really helpful information regarding minimum distances your grill or smoker should be from buildings, trees, other grills etc. Be sure to adhere to these instructions you never know when that little bit of extra space might save the day!
Keep Your Food Safe
Just because we are out of the traditional kitchen doesn’t mean that we should forget everything about food safety and hygiene. You might be relaxing and having a good time but bacteria do not. Bacteria lives in everything, even your wife’s delicious potato salad. Bacteria likes to grow in temperatures above freezing all the way up to 165°F. Every second that your food is in this very wide temperature range bacteria is multiplying, growing and causing disease in your food.
We need to remember to keep our food cool at all times. As soon as we are ready to cook take it out of the fridge, and as soon as we are done service put it back in the fridge. This is the best way to limit bacterial growth.
Don’t leave anything up to chance, I have a good theory. Suspect everything! Keep everything covered and cooled! Then get it hot!
Being Aware Of Smoke And The Harm It Can Cause
When you have fire, you have smoke. Smoke gets everywhere! On your clothes, In your hair, eyes, and lungs. Smoke is a huge part of having a cookout, however, it is something that is often overlooked in the safety world. You need to be careful with smoke. Smoke from your grill or smoker contains Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH), carbon monoxide and several other dangerous substances. PAH is a substance that is formed when grease burns, it even has links to forming cancer in the human body. We all love the smell of the smoke from our favourite woods & meats, however, do keep in mind it can actually cause you harm. So do try and limit the amount of smoke you inhale.
Charcoal Safety And Lighting Your Grill
Contrary to common belief, charcoal grills/ smokers are the cause of far more fires than gas smokers/ grills. The biggest problem with a charcoal grill/ smoker is lighting the charcoal. Lighter fluid causes lots of problems & if you use this method you should find a better way to light your coals. In an emergency what actually burns the hair off your face is the added lighter fluid, not the hot coals. At quite a low temperature lighter fluid turns to a heavy gas. While liquid lighter fluid burns the evaporated lighter fluid explodes. So be extremely careful when lighting using lighter fluid, and if possible stay away from this method altogether and use a safer method.
Checking Your Gas Lines
By a country mile, the number one cause of gas grill fires is an obstruction in the path of the gas. The gas lines usually run out of sight under, behind or next to your grill where quite often it sits ‘out of sight, out of mind’. This means you need to regularly go out of your way to inspect your gas grill for problems. Try and do this before every backyard session, that way you know your grill/smoker is always in tip-top shape. The number one obstruction in the gas line is bugs. Bugs can climb into little places causing gas to flow where it shouldn’t. The first sign that something is not right will be the smell of gas. If you ever smell gas, do not hesitate to turn off the master valve of your bottle. This will stop the gas at the source and stop any gas from escaping and causing any real big problems.
Being Aware Of How Much Grease Is Building Up
Remember propane and natural gas burn at temperatures over 1900ºC so it is dangerous enough that you are using flammable materials to cook with, but the food itself is creating even more. Flare-ups are much more than just a nuisance and a crowd pleaser, they are potentially very lethal. You grill collects grease that builds up over time from grilling/ smoking. After only a few cookouts, it’s not unheard of to have accumulated up to a few pounds of grease. This is one of the most important reasons to keep ontop of your grills cleanliness. Remember, a clean grill/smoker is a safe grill/ smoker, no matter what kind.
Eliminating Cancer-Causing Char
We all love a good char on our chicken or a really nice crust on our brisket. But be careful. Charring your meat (or veggies for that matter) at very high temperatures can cause surface charring, the char can cause cancer-causing substances called Heterocyclic Amines (HCA) to form. To minimize the risk of this you can:
1) Avoid overcooking (charring) any food type
2) Use a thin cut of meat that does not require such long cooking times, thus minimizing the risk of char.
3) Use a marinade
4) Grill at a lower temperature
In the backyard, its really great to kick back with a cold one and watch the meat cook, however, as you can tell from the above being the master of your grill/ smoker does require some clear thinking. Alcohol and clear thinking do not go hand in hand together. Try to stay away from opening a cold one while you are in charge of the grill. Let everyone else kick back and have one while you are cooking, then once the food is done enjoy your well-earned drink and have a good time. Even better if you did the cooking you can kick back and have a cold one while everyone else cleans up!
Barbeque, smoker and grill safety is not something we should stress out about, but it is something that we should all be very aware of. Being safe around the grill is not hard and keeping these rules in the back of your mind at all times might just save your guests, family members or your own life one day.
Before using your grill always be sure to inspect it, make sure everything is still in good working order, especially if it has been hidden away all winter. When inspecting your grill and you do find it is just not in the shape it used to be, don’t put your family and friends lives in danger make sure you check out best gas smokers and make an investment on your safety.
Now get out there and check our gas lines and dig out those instruction manuals!