Listen up grill masters: Summer BBQ safety tips

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Michigan has fired up another year of delicious summertime grilling. One of the best parts about cooking out is that it can essentially be done anywhere: poolside, on the campground, on rooftop patios, and beyond. No matter where you roll out the hardware, always remember the risks that come with grilling season.

Did you know that use of gas and charcoal grills leads to 16,900 emergency room visits and $96 million in property damage every year? Although injuries number only in the low hundreds, the safety of your family and home depend on sticking to some easy-to-follow rules.

To make these tips and others easier to remember, consider printing out a list to keep near your cooking area so you’ll see it before getting started:

  1. Keep your barbeque grill squeaky clean: Though it’s not the most exciting chore in the world, regularly scrubbing your grill prevents fat and grease build-up. These fuel fire flare-ups can burn your face, hands and arms. You can use baking soda, vinegar and salt, and/or sandpaper on the grates.
  2. Maintain your distance: Burning charcoal releases carbon monoxide (CO) into the air, and this causes more than 300 ER injuries annually. Always burn outside; wait until 15-30 minutes after charcoal is extinguished before moving it back to indoor storage. For gas grills, keep a distance by standing one step back to avoid inhaling smoke and fumes. Also invest in long pairs of grilling tongs.
  3. Don’t make kids your sous chefs: Teaching your children how to cook can be an amazing experience, but with an open grill, they can get injured fairly easily. Use chalk to outline “hazard zones” that young ones shouldn’t enter, including areas storing knives and hot plates. Assign them roles like setting the table and passing out appetizers, or coordinating pre-meal yard games!
  4. Give the grill special attention: An unattended cooking station can start a blaze in minutes. Keep it in a visible space that is at least 10 feet away from the house, and assign someone to look after it if you need to step away for a moment. Just as important: Do not ignite the gas while the grill lid is closed. The gas can buildup and cause a fireball when you open to light it.

While cooking up your next big feast, keep these BBQ tips in mind so a trip to the doctor can be avoided. And, it doesn’t just stop with apparatus safety. Summer is the season of food-borne illness—check out CDC’s food safety tips