Juicy tips for barbecuing

  • Published
  • By Heidi Nelson
  • Air Force Safety Center
Molly and the girls had been hiking the Texas hillside all day. Now they were tired and hungry. Steve had left the barbecue grill and charcoal beside the travel trailer with instructions to light the charcoal at six.

He would cook the ribs when he returned from fishing at seven. A summer thunderstorm put a damper on the evening meal plans until Molly realized she could bring the open grill into the trailer to get the coals started. Good fortune was shining on the family even if Mother Nature wasn't. Steve returned in time to rush his wife and daughters to the hospital just as they were beginning to succumb to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Molly did not know the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports about 25 people die and hundreds suffer from CO poisoning each year when they burn charcoal in enclosed areas.

A Variety Of Barbecuing Hazards
 Read and follow the manufacturer's instructions for your grill.
 Place the grill in an open area out of doors. Keep it away from buildings, shrubbery and dry vegetation. Ten feet is a good measure. Set it away from the flow of pedestrian traffic.
 Close nearby windows and doors.
 Do not use a grill on top of or under any surface that will burn, such as a porch or carport. The wooden deck attached to your house is not a good place to barbecue.

This bears repeating!
Never move a lighted grill indoors, regardless of the weather outside or your appetite for thick, juicy hamburgers. Opening a window or garage door or using a fan may not reduce carbon monoxide to safe levels.
 Do not build a charcoal fire in an indoor fireplace. The fire produced by the briquettes is not hot enough to cause the chimney to suck the combustion products upward and poisonous carbon monoxide will stay in the room.
 Use the starter fluids designated for your grill. Place the can and matches away from the grill. Never use gasoline.
 Never leave a lighted grill unattended.
 Keep children and pets away from a hot grill.
 If the coals start to flag or are slow to catch, fan them or use dry kindling and rolled-up newspaper to give a boost. Adding liquid fuel could result in a flash fire.

Odds And Ends
 Wear a heavy apron, long pants and an oven mitt. Cover your forearms with a mitt that extends over your elbow, or wear a long-sleeved, close-fitting shirt.
 All your barbecue tools should have long handles to keep your hands and clothing away from the heat and flames.
 Reduce grease flare-ups by trimming excess fat.
 Keep a spray bottle of water handy.
 As soon as possible, clear away all your cooking equipment such as fire starters, charcoal, forks, tongs and dishes. This will assure children don't get into them.
 Cover the grill, close the vents and allow the coals to cool overnight. If you're in a hurry, douse the fire with water.
 Discard ashes into a metal container. Be careful. Seemingly "dead" charcoal can re-ignite hours later. Spray with water for added safety.
 Observe all precautions to avoid food poisoning.

Gas Grills
 Have your igniter ready when the gas is turned on to prevent a flash burn or explosion.
 If the burner doesn't ignite quickly, shut the valves, leave the lid open, and allow the grill to air out for several minutes before you try to light it again. That avoids a buildup of explosive gases.
 Store the gas cylinder outside and be sure the gas is turned off at the tank to prevent accidental ignitions. Check the connections frequently for leaks using a soap-and-water mixture. Escaping gas will appear as bubbles. Tighten
the connections or call a professional to repair the grill.
 Clean the metal venturi tubes annually.
 Have your tank filled by a qualified dealer. Over-filling can be dangerous.