As a nation of proud BBQers, the first signs of spring are a welcome invitation to get the grill out of storage and get those hotdogs, hamburgers, and corn-on-the-cobs grilled to perfection.
But there’s more to perfect BBQ than just firing up the grill – if you don’t take the proper precautions with your backyard BBQ, you’re leaving yourself, your loved ones, and even your property vulnerable. Follow these eight simple barbecuing safety tips to stay safe at that next BBQ party.
1. Clean and Inspect Your Grill
Before you open up that hood and throw those burgers on the grill, you should give your beloved barbecue a thorough cleaning and inspection. Always clean your BBQ before using it for the first time each season:
- First, disconnect the gas.
- Lift out the parts of your grill layer by layer. Take a look at the burners – are there any blockages? Any built up residue? Remove these with a brass wire brush, getting rid of any surface corrosion. Use an opened paper clip to clean any clogged ports.
- Clean the briquettes or metal plates using a wire brush, removing burnt-on food and residue.
- Clean the cooking grate with soap and water, use a wire brush to get rid of burnt-on residue.
After you’ve given your BBQ a good washing, inspect its parts. Are the burners, fittings, or flex hose damaged or worn out? If so, replace them. Make sure that the burner’s venturi tubes sit properly on the gas valve openings.
2. Check for Leaks
Before you turn up the gas, check your barbecue for leaks. Use a commercial leak detector solution, or a home-made solution of 50% water and 50% liquid soap – simply brush the solution onto all your BBQ’s valves and connections. If you see bubbles, then you have a leak.
If your leak is located on a connection, close your barbecue’s service valve and tighten the connection. Test it again – if the bubbles persist, you should contact a qualified technician to fix the issue.
Remember: never use a lighter or match to check for leaks on your barbecue.
3. Light It Properly
If you’ve checked for leaks, and the coast is clear, it’s time to light up the grill!
Open the barbecue lid, then turn on the gas supply by turning the valve on the propane tank. Then, turn on the burner. Once you’ve turned the burner on, quickly hold the ignition button or switch.
4. Keep a Distance from Your Home
Your grill might be close to your heart, but if you keep it too close to your deck railings or home, you’re putting your property in serious danger.
Ensure that your grill is at least three metres (or ten feet) away from any doors, windows, heat sources, or obstructions. Make sure there are no overhanging tree branches above your barbecue, and always keep children and pets away from the barbecue area. Always barbecue outside, in a secure and well ventilated area.
5. Be Ultra Cautious With That Fire
Fire is not a force to be taken lightly – even when it’s safely contained within your barbecue. Be vigilante when grilling, and keep a fire extinguisher on hand at all times.
Make sure you know how to extinguish a fire, and how to cut your barbecue’s fuel supplies in a hurry. Stay versed in fire safety rules, and always have someone in charge of a fire, whether you’re grilling on a BBQ or sitting around a firepit.
In the unfortunate event of a fire, you should call a claims advisor as soon as possible to get any emergency assistance needed. Then, you can start the claims process right away.
6. Make Food Safety a Priority
Each year, over 4 million Canadians get food poisoning. Make sure you and your family and friends aren’t included in that statistic:
- Always separate food (keep raw meat away from fruits and veggies to avoid cross-contamination.
- Don’t use the same surface for cutting meats and other foods – afterwards, wash all cutting boards, plates, and utensils that were touched by raw meat. Use new utensils when your food has been cooked.
- Always wash your hands with soap and warm water for a minimum of 20 seconds before handling raw meat or preparing any kind of food.
- Always cook meat thoroughly – even if that burger looks done on the outside, it may be raw on the inside. Use a food thermometer to be absolutely certain your meat is cooked – insert it into the thickest part of the meat and cook until it reaches proper temperatures:
- Turkey or chicken: 82°C
- Hamburgers/ground beef: 71°C
- Fish: 70°C
- Pork: 71°C
- Hot Dogs: 74°C
- Steak: 63°C
7. Dress for the Job
When you’re outside grilling this summer, make sure you’re wearing the right kind of clothes for job – that means sticking to a wardrobe without hanging frills, apron strings, or shirt tails that could catch fire. What’s more, you should use flame-retardant oven mitts when readjusting those hot barbecue vents.
8. Shut It Off Properly
When all the succulent steaks have been eaten, and the corn on the cobs are just cobs, it’s time to shut off that trusty grill and put it away until next time.
First, shut off your service valve, allowing any remaining gas in the hose lines to burn off. Next, turn off your burner control valves – this ensures that there is no more gas trapped inside the hose. After you’ve shut everything off, give your BBQ some time to cool off before covering it.
By taking a few precautions, you can make sure this summer’s BBQ parties serve up nothing but good food and good fun. Happy grilling!