Friday, 28 June 2013

Grilling safety

It's pretty hard to fathom a summer long weekend—especially the Canada Day long weekend—without the accompaniments of grilled hot dogs and burgers. Nothing quite says warm-weather festivity like the smell of barbecued food. If you're planning on firing up the grill in commemoration of our great nation's natal feast, be sure to observe the safety tips provided below in order to keep your celebration safe and fun.

Only use your gas or charcoal grill outdoors. Unless you have a grill that specifies it is for indoor use (such as a small electric grill) this is an appliance that should only be used outdoors. Certainly, we understand the temptation to violate this safety rule: when you're planning a cookout for many people, and the weather does not cooperate, you may think that moving your outdoor grill indoors would be one way to thwart torrential rain. This is highly dangerous though. Plan on a backup method of cooking your food instead, like roasting in the oven, pan-frying, or using indoor grills.

Read your manual. This sounds so mundane to the enthusiast who just wants to light up the grill and feed masses, but the importance of this step really cannot be emphasized enough. There may be aspects of operating a grill that seem intuitive to you, but there are safety features specific to each particular grill that you have no way of knowing about unless you read the manual. Consult with it at least once at the start of every “grilling season” and also keep it handy while you work.

Keep your grill clean. Your barbecue doesn't need any extra help flaring up: the fuel that ignites it, and the grease from the food that it cooks are already highly flammable. For this reason, any added residue on your grill is just asking for trouble. Removing grease and ash regularly will help your food to cook more evenly, and more safely too.

Work in an open, spacious area. Operating your grill in an open area minimizes this risks of small items drifting towards the grill and catching fire, and of larger objects (or even people) accidentally hitting the grill. Above all though, being in an open area means there will be adequate ventilation, which is of paramount importance: as pleasant as is the aroma of food cooked outdoors, smoke poisoning is serious, and is to be avoided at all costs.

Be prepared for the possibility of fire. Of course, you want to do everything you can to minimize this risk, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't anticipate it anyway. In the event of a grill that catches fire, you should be ready to deal with it right away so that it does not spread. You should have a fire extinguisher handy, and be very familiar with its operation. You should also be aware of how to cut off the grill's fuel supply quickly and correctly. Working in a zone free of debris and clutter will reduce the risk of a fire that spreads. Also, you should never, ever leave the grill unattended (of course).


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