Summer and grilling go together like peanut butter and jelly or ice cream and cake. A barbecue is a great way to bring friends and family together, spend time outdoors and gives you a healthier way to cook your food.
Although grilling is a healthier way to prepare meats and vegetables, it still poses risks. Consider this: Grilling sends thousands of people to emergency rooms each year. So, before you fire up the grill for your next gathering, consider these common safety hazards.
Concentrate on veggies: Though there’s nothing like the smell of grilling meat in the summer, make room on your grill for some veggies, too. Grilling vegetables — even some fruits — is a great way to increase your intake. Try using kebabs to group bell peppers, onion and pieces of chicken or beef. Papaya, mango or pineapple are also tasty kebab additions.
If you have a fatty cut of meat, trim all visible sources of fat before grilling. If you’re grilling chicken, make sure it’s skinless or remove the skin. You also can try precooking your meats in the microwave for 60 to 90 seconds. This helps cut down on the cooking process and reduces any harmful chemicals generated by excess juices coming in contact with grill flames.
While it might seem tempting to grill on your porch — especially if the weather’s less than ideal — don’t. Keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your home. If you notice melted siding or char marks on your home, your grill is too close. Keep children and pets at least three feet away from your grilling area.
Before you start cooking, check for leaks on the major connection points between the propane tank hose and regulator and cylinder. If it’s loose, tighten it. Check the propane tank hose for leaks by brushing or spraying a solution of soap and water on the hose and looking for bubbles around the hose once the tank is turned on. If you notice bubbles, a professional should service your grill.
When you’re finished and your grill has cooled, remove any fat or stuck-on food items from the grill grates. But choose your cleaning tool carefully. Nearly 1,700 people visited emergency rooms between 2002 and 2014 after ingesting wire bristles from wire grilling brushes. This happens after bristles become dislodged and stuck onto grill grates and then become lodged in the grilled food.
Instead of using a wire brush, try a pumice stone or a coil-shaped bristle-free brush. If you prefer to use a wire brush, make sure you check your grill grates for stray bristles.