Father’s Day is upon us, and along with new ties, breakfast in bed, and the most valued stick-man drawings ever given comes THE GRILL! It’s the classic “dad skill” even if some of us don’t do it that often, but even the most heralded grillers among us need to be aware that accidents do happen. In fact, according to the US Fire Administration, there’s an average of $37 million in property damage, 100 major injuries, and even 10 deaths each year that result from grill fires and accidents. So, as we thaw out that meat and switch out the propane tank or buy a new bag of charcoal let’s keep some precautions in mind.
If you’re using a gas grill, be sure to check carefully for gas leaks. Following the manufacturer’s instructions is the best approach, but we all know that we threw those away as soon as we brought our grill home, so check out this video from the National Fire Safety Association: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpDhUssEgP0. And make sure the gas line is still in good condition and not cracked - especially if it’s been sitting unused for a while.
Using a propane tank? Make sure the tank isn't rusted, dented, or damaged in any way. If it is, take it to the corner store and replace it- $30 or $40 bucks isn’t worth an explosion.
Don’t store propane tanks indoors.
Never use your outdoor grill inside, even a small grill, and when using it, always make sure you’re in an open space clear of anything flammable, like a low awning or a pile of dry leaves.
Don’t leave the grill unattended while cooking. Not only do you look more impressive standing at the grill overseeing the progress of your meal, but if you walk away you won’t know if a problem starts, and if the kids are around they often get curious and could suffer serious burns.
Never lean over the grill while cooking
Don’t move the grill while it’s in use or still hot.
Make sure the fire is completely out when you’re done - particularly a charcoal grill.
Be prepared for a fire. This means having access to a fire extinguisher or baking soda nearby to throw on flames.
It’s not just the grill itself that we need to consider, something often skipped in grill safety is keeping bacteria from growing on uncooked meat. It’s easy to let your raw, seasoned, and prepared steaks, burgers, chicken, or fish sit out on a counter or next to the grill while you’re making final preparations or playing with the kids, but according to the USDA harmful bacteria can begin growing on chicken in about 20 minutes if not refrigerated. And be sure that once you’ve transferred your raw meats to the grill that you wash the plate it was on or use a different plate to serve your Father’s Day feast.
So, enjoy your Father’s Day, and if you can’t think of a grilled delicacy to wow your kids with, try one of these!: https://www.thespruceeats.com/top-fathers-day-recipes-336058
Nidal Halimeh is a microbiologist at GermBlast that supervises the Field Epidemiology Team in addition to working on product research, innovation, and development.