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Summer grilling safety

5 tips before you fire up the barbecue.

Article Author: Juice Staff

Article Date:

man near burning grill not following grilling safety tips

Nothing says summertime like the smell of burgers on the grill. But the hot cooktop can lead to burn injuries and create a fire hazard if placed too close to anything flammable, according to the National Fire Protection Association. That's why grilling safety is so important.

"Summer is the peak season for grill fires and burns resulting from touching a heated object like a hot grill," said Benjamin Jivcu, DO, an emergency medicine specialist with Emergency Resources Group who practices at Baptist Health Emergency Centers. "Common grilling injuries include superficial burns or ones with a very small area of blistering. But roughly half of all injuries involving grills include thermal burns, which can penetrate all layers of the skin and need prompt emergency medical attention."

Before you fire up, follow these grilling safety tips:

1. Make sure your grill is in good working order.

If you're using a propane grill, check the connections between the propane tank hose and the grill. Then, check for gas leaks. You can do this by turning the propane tank on and applying a small amount of soapy water to the hose. If there are bubbles around the hose, you have a gas leak. Turn off the tank and burners immediately and get the grill serviced before using it again. If the leak doesn't stop, or if you smell gas while grilling, turn it off and call the fire department.

2. Kickin' it old school with charcoal?

Charcoal grills create a wonderful smoky flavor and are a lot more portable. Use only charcoal starter fluid and never add the liquid when the coals have already been ignited. After grilling, let the coals cool completely before throwing away the ashes. And no matter what type of grill you use, make sure children and pets are kept a safe distance away.

3. Keep your grill clean.

Always remember to clean your grill after you're done cooking. This ensures bacteria are kept away from your food and prevents flare-ups. Allowing grease and fat to build up adds more fuel for fire.

4. Never leave your grill unattended.

Anything can happen. Fires tend to double in size every minute. It's best to plan ahead and do all your food prep before firing up the grill. Remember to keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of an emergency.

5. Grill at least 10 feet away from your home.

Even farther away is better. Never grill underneath wooden overhangs either, as this could cause a flare-up. Also, remember to pay attention to any overhanging tree branches when setting up your grill.

"Seek medical help if you see signs of an infected burn or if redness or pain lasts more than a few hours," Dr. Jivcu said. "Once the wound is examined and treated, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics and pain medication."

Where to go in an emergency

If you experience a severe burn, go to your closest emergency department. Baptist Health has Emergency Centers throughout Northeast Florida that are open 24/7 for children and adults. Check wait times here.

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