How to Grill Safely (and 4 Tools That Can Help)

How to Grill Safely (and 4 Tools That Can Help)

The Fourth of July is the United States’ unofficial national grilling holiday—and if nothing else, charring meat outside with friends is worth celebrating. Whether you’ve hosted a few burger sessions already this summer, or you’ve wheeled in your very first charcoal grill, it’s important to brush up on your safety before you strike a match. Here are the things you should do and the tools you might need, before, during, and after the last dog comes off the grill. 

Before you grill

Place the grill in an appropriate place. In the event that a stray spark flies, or a wicked flare-up occurs, you want to be clear of anything that could catch fire. Grills, especially charcoal grills, should be at least 10 feet away from the house, railings, overhanging tree branches, and anything combustible. For gas grills, check your state fire code for distance minimums. If you can manage it, 10 feet seems to be the way to go. Make sure you’re grilling in an outdoor open area so no carbon monoxide can build up. 

Establish a safety zone. With kids running around and dogs catching frisbees across the yard, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. It doesn’t hurt to establish a defined circle around your grill that’s a “no-go zone.” Use bright colorful chalk for concrete, environmentally friendly field marking spray for grass, or just set up a ring of coolers so kids don’t wander in unknowingly. 

Take note of your fire extinguisher. Of course you have a fire extinguisher, right? Get one. Get two. It’s a small price to pay for safety, and you’d be kicking yourself for not spending 30 bucks if you suddenly had to pay $US3,000 for siding repairs. Put the fire extinguisher in an obvious place so you and everyone else knows where to find it if there’s an emergency.

During the grilling sesh

Open your gas grill before lighting. Gas can build up under the domed lid of your gas grill if you keep the lid down. Before clicking the ignition button, make sure the lid is open. Not only does this allow any built up gas to dissipate, but you’ll be able to check out how the flames are doing. 

Use a charcoal chimney. Charcoal grills don’t have an ignition button, and that’s the beauty of it all. Instead of dousing your briquettes in lighter fluid, which can flare up (and later possibly cause your food to have a hint of fumes), use a chimney. They’re fast, simple, and safe to use. Not only do well-seasoned grill masters use them, but they’re a good way to build confidence as a novice. 

Stay nearby. Any time you have an open flame you should be close enough to keep an eye on it. I mean honestly, if that goes for candles then it definitely goes for grills.

After the grilling is done

Clean your grill. You may have scrubbed your grates before grilling, but it’s after using it, when the burnt bits and fats are warm, that you’ll see the most crap come off. And definitely clean your gas grill, too, using a nice sturdy brush. That grease trap can spawn hell fire if you’re not careful.

Dispose of your coals. Once the coals and ashes are completely cool, you can wrap them in aluminum foil and put them in a metal can with a tight fitting lid. This could be a small coffee can, or a metal trash can that you use specifically for this purpose. Make sure the coals are in an outdoor trash can for pickup. 

Once you’ve gotten the right tools and checked these cautionary items off your mental checklist, you’ll be ready to get to it. Get out there and make some damn tasty eats. 

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