Memorial Day sounded the gong for grillers to break out their aprons and tongs and get to work. But it’s important to stay safe when using your grill — not only to avoid burns and fire, but also to ensure your guests will enjoy food that’s properly cooked and safe to eat.
Here’s a quick guide to gas grill safety from Joe Mirza, a field support engineer at Sears — and don’t forget to take a few minutes to read your gas grill manual before getting started.
Be Ever Vigilant
Prep everything before the food hits the grill so you can remain nearby. Be especially aware of children, and don’t let them play near the grill. Make sure your grill is in a well-ventilated location — about 3 feet from any wall or surface — and never grill in an enclosed space like a carport, garage, porch, covered patio or under an overhead structure of any kind. Keep liquid propane cylinders upright during use, and store them in a cool, dry space away from other appliances.
• Wash hands, utensils and surfaces with hot soapy water before and after handling raw meat and poultry. • Separate raw meats and poultry from ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross contamination. • Use a clean platter and utensils when removing cooked foods. • Cook meat and poultry thoroughly to kill bacteria. • Chill and refrigerate prepared foods and leftovers promptly.
Now You’re Cooking
The USDA recommends the following internal temperatures for safety: • Beef, veal, lamb and pork: whole cuts at 145ºF; ground at 160ºF • Turkey, chicken and duck: whole cuts and ground at 165ºF • Fish: 145ºF
Allow meat to rest three minutes before carving or consuming. And if you’re cooking foods with sauces or rubs that contain sugars, keep your grilling temperature below 265ºF — the temperature at which sugar burns — to prevent food from blackening and burning.
Keep It Clean
A dirty grill flares up, smokes incessantly and will cook food that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Thoroughly clean grates and burner covers two or three times a year with a strong solution of detergent and water, or use grill cleaner with a scrub brush. Rinse, and allow the grill to completely air dry. Grill frequently? Do this more often. You really will notice the difference.
Flare-ups should be controlled — not fought — so put aside the spray bottle. Keep a section of your grill empty so you can move the food if a flare-up occurs. To prevent burns, use fire-retardant mitts and long-handled tools specifically designed for grilling. If your fire begins to get out of control, quickly turn off the burners and gas if you can do so safely. Stand clear, leave the lid open and let the fire die down on its own. If it’s a grease fire, don’t throw water on it. Turn off knobs and the propane cylinder. Use your judgment as to whether or not you need to contact the fire department.
Take a few minutes to read your gas grill manual for even more tips. Stay safe for a great outdoor cooking season.