On Barbecue Safety
Whether your barbecue uses charcoal, wood, propane or natural gas; don’t even think about placing “your shrimp on the barbie” until you are sure that your grill is safe to use. For wood burning units make certain that vents are clean and operable and that there are no areas that have rusted through. Embers can wreak havoc with a nearby wood pile or even your home.
A barbecue that is in disrepair is dangerous at best.
- Thoroughly clean your grill each season. Grease buildup can cause a fire that cannot be easily extinguished.
- Keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your home or other combustible surfaces.
- Don’t barbecue indoors. You can literally suffocate every living thing in your home. By the way, your garage is considered indoors as well.
- Don’t barbecue on a wood deck if there is a chance that dry grass is growing beneath it. You can start a fire that can’t be easily extinguished.
- Never use a propane barbecue grill on a balcony, terrace or roof since it is both dangerous and illegal in many locals.
- Keep children away from the grill.
- It may sound silly, but a nearby garden hose (or a fire extinguisher) is a must.
Rotted wooden handles, a bad thermostat and frayed rotisserie wiring should all be repaired or replaced.
How close did you say you would be standing to that fire? The thermostat says the temp is 200 degrees and you lift the top and are met with a billowing 600 degree flame and more smoke than you know what to do with. Not a good thing.
In addition to all the above, gas grills require even more attention.
Be sure to inspect the venturi (near the gas control valve). For some reason spiders are attracted to the supply tubes. They can nest in the tiniest places. Each season we disassemble the gas lines between the shut off valve and the burners. Everything is scrubbed with soap and water and blown out using a high pressure air nozzle (this requires a compressor) so be prepared to make a trip to you local gas station if you don’t have one. The burners themselves need to be wire brushed and all of those little tiny holes need to be free of obstructions. Check and secure all gas connections. A leak can be fatal. Soapy water sprayed onto each connection and fitting will reveal an unwanted leak.
Once your barbecue is up and running, follow a few rules to a safer and more pleasant experience.
- Don’t use gasoline or paint thinner to start your fire. You may lose a substantial amount of hair in the process.
- Alcoholic beverages can be as flammable as paint thinner – some even more so. We even know some that taste like paint thinner. Leave your cocktail glass on the table in the kitchen.
- Use starter fluid sensibly, and start by applying it to the coals, then light your fire. Don’t stand next to the fire and squirt lighter fluid onto the flames. You could end up becoming the “charred poster child”.
- Don’t wear loose clothing when barbecuing – unless you are dead set on sacrificing yourself to the fire gods.
When using a gas grill NEVER turn the gas on with the lid closed. An accumulation of gas can result in a horrendous explosion. Heading these common sense rules will result in a safe outdoor cooking season this spring and summer.
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