Grilling is one of the oldest methods of preparing food and, in the summer, one of the most popular. It’s a great way to kick back, but don’t forget about safety. Whether you’re using propane or open fire, here are some tips for a fun and safe cookout:
- Always have a fire extinguisher easily accessible when you grill.
- Keep your grill away from railings, branches, eaves, and your house. If you have the choice, it’s better to set up on stone or brick than on wood or grass.
- Don’t walk away from the grill while it’s going unless there’s someone there to take over.
- Keep an eye on kids, pets and others who may incautiously wander up.
- Keep the grill grates clean to avoid cross-contamination and flare-ups. This not only prevents fire, it improves the food.
- Avoid smoke, which may have carbon monoxide and carcinogenic chemicals from food drippings. It’s especially important to keep children away from the smoke.
- Don’t put flammable liquids on a charcoal fire.
- If you’re using a gas grill, check the hose for leaks and know how much you have left in the canister.
Fire isn’t the only danger of a cookout. Food safety is just as important in the backyard as it is in the kitchen. Anything, even veggies, can grow bacteria if it’s allowed to rest between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. A marinade, especially one with basil, thyme, or oregano, can help prevent the formation of carcinogens, but if raw food has been in it, either throw it out or bring it to a boil for five minutes to use it as a sauce or glaze. Don’t let cooked food touch raw food, even on the grill, and don’t put cooked food on a surface raw food has been on, or use the same utensils to handle both.
Red meat is traditional for cookouts, but consider chicken and vegetable options as well. Meats are particularly prone to developing cancer-causing substances when grilled, so be judicious. You’ll be happy to know that overall, grilling is one of the healthiest cooking methods available, so have fun.