If you’re planning a cookout this summer, take precautions to prevent injuries and mishaps. According to grilling statistics from the National Fire Protection Association, an average of 19,000 people went to the emergency room due to grill-related injuries between 2013 and 2017. Follow these grilling safety tips to keep your family and friends safe during your next gathering.

Grilling Safety Starts With Keeping it Clean

Keeping the grill clean can save you from a grease flare-up and a trip to the emergency room. Clean the grill thoroughly to prevent the buildup of grease and food particles.

Be careful with your grill brushes because bristles can fall off and stick to the grill. When these bristles stick to food and get swallowed, they can cause serious health problems requiring surgery. Replace your grill brush when it begins to look worn out.

Avoid Cross-Contamination

To avoid cross-contamination and the spread of illnesses through raw meat, wash your hands frequently during food-prep. Keep fresh food and cooked meat away from raw meat.

Clean knives and cutting boards with hot soapy water between every use. Use gloves when handling uncooked meats. Store antibacterial wipes by the grill to save a few trips to the sink that may leave your grill unattended.

An Important Step in Grilling Safety: Check the Equipment

If you store your grill outdoors, check the burners after the winter. Small animals may have nested there. Inspect the burners for rust and debris. Check the hoses on your grill for leaks by applying a mixture of soap and water to the hose before turning on the propane. You’ll know there’s a gas leak if bubbles form on the hose.

Proper Placement for Grilling Safety

Use your grill on a flat surface and in an area with proper ventilation. Carbon monoxide can build up from grilling inside a garage or under an overhang. Keep grills ten feet away from the house, deck railings, patio furniture, and other outdoor structures.

If you will be using the grill on a deck, find a safe, level place for cooking. Use a mat underneath the grill to catch food scraps and to provide a non-slip surface. The grill should never be left unattended. Any children or pets should be kept at least three feet away from the grill and propane tank. Have a fire extinguisher on hand in case of an emergency.

Properly Starting the Grill

Follow the proper procedure to start your grill. The lid must be open before lighting. For gas grills, don’t start the ignition until you’ve made sure that the propane tank and burners are turned on. Never pour lighter fluid directly onto a fire or hot coals. Instead, place charcoal on the grill and use lighter fluid before lighting the coals.

A few simple precautions will help your cookout go smoothly. Accidents can easily be avoided by following these grilling safety tips.

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