ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — As the temperatures continue to climb, people are starting to spend more time outdoors. With Memorial Day just around the corner, the New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection wants to remind those using grills for cookouts to be safe and to follow safety precautions that can reduce injury and save lives.
“Cookout fun can quickly turn dangerous if you don’t follow the proper safety procedures when grilling,” said Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez. “Simple steps such as a frequent cleaning of the grill and keeping a fire extinguisher nearby can help ensure your gatherings remain safe and memorable all summer long.”
Statistics compiled from fire departments in the U.S. report around 10,600 home grill fires and 100 deaths due to grill fire injuries annually. Approximately 79% of all grill fires are from gas grills. There is also a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning when using gas or charcoal grills.
The Division of Consumer Protection advises the following when using charcoal or gas grills:
Before lighting the grill do a safety check.
- Have a fire extinguisher nearby and easily accessible in case of a fire.
- Inspect the hoses on a gas grill for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing and that all connections are secure. Replace if necessary.
- Check for propane gas leaks. Open the gas supply valve fully and apply a soapy solution with a brush at the connection point. If bubbles appear, there is a leak. Try tightening the tank connection. If that does not stop the leak, close the gas valve and have the grill repaired by a qualified professional.
- Make sure the grill is clean. Regularly cleaning the grill, as described in the owner’s manual, and cleaning the grease trap, will reduce the risk of flare-ups and grease fires.
- Make sure the grill is stable and on a level, flat surface. Be sure it doesn’t rock or tip when you open and close the lid. If your grill isn’t set on concrete or pavers, consider investing in a grill mat.
- Always start a gas grill with the lid open. Keeping the lip open while starting the grill allows excess gas to escape. If the lid is closed, the gas can pool under the lid and, when opened, combust suddenly creating a fireball.
- Light charcoal in a charcoal chimney. A charcoal chimney is a safer way of starting a charcoal grill since it doesn’t involve the use of accelerants like lighter fluid.
- Only use grills outside in a well-ventilated area. Never use a grill indoors, in a garage, breezeway, carport, or porch, next to your home, or under a surface that will burn.
Pay close attention once the grill is lit.
- Never leave a grill unattended. If a flare-up occurs, turn off the gas or spread out the coals to lower the temperature.
- Watch for grease fires. If a grease fire occurs, turn off the gas and use baking soda and/or a fire extinguisher to put out the fire.
- Keep children away from the grill area. The outside surface of a grill can get hot and cause severe burns.
Store your grill and fuel tanks safely.
- Leave charcoal grills outside. Since charcoal produces CO fumes until the charcoal is completely extinguished, do not store a grill indoors with freshly used coals.
- Use caution when storing liquid propane (LP) gas containers. Always keep containers upright. Never store a spare gas container under or near the grill. Never store a full container indoors.
- Transport LP gas containers carefully. Consumers should transport the container in a secure, upright position and never keep a filled container in a hot car or trunk. Heat may increase the gas pressure, causing the relief valve to open and allowing gas to escape.
Keep food safety in mind.
- Marinate foods in the refrigerator — never on the kitchen counter or outdoors. If you plan to use some of the marinade as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a portion separately before adding raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Don’t reuse marinade.
- Meat must be cooked to the proper temperature. Germs, such as E. coli and salmonella, can be present in undercooked meats, such as hamburgers and chicken. Always check the temperature with a meat thermometer.
- Don’t reuse platters or utensils. Using the same platter or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood allows bacteria from the raw food to spread to the cooked food. Instead, have a clean platter and utensils ready at the grill side to serve your food.
- Keep cold food cold and hot food hot. Keep meat, poultry, seafood, salads, and other cold foods refrigerated until they’re about to be cooked or served. If grilled food is finished cooking but won’t be served right away, keep it hot until served. To prevent bacteria growth, cold food should be kept at 40 °F or below, and hot food should be kept at 140 °F or higher.
- Refrigerate any leftovers immediately! Never leave food at room temperature for more than two hours, or only one hour if the temperature is above 90 °F.