Tips for a healthy and safe Father’s Day BBQ

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This guest post is from Nicholas Solomon, a Safety/Industrial Hygiene Specialist for DTE Gas

A cookout is a terrific way to celebrate Father’s Day but improper grill usage can cause injuries, illness and property damage. Before you fire up the barbecue, keep these essential grilling tips top of mind to ensure you and your guests stay safe.

Before you grill

Grill related injuries can send as many as 16,600 people to the emergency room each year based on estimates from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Don’t let yourself, or one of your guests, be one of them.

  • Place grill 10 feet away from home and deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches to prevent fires.
  • Only use grills outdoors and never in an enclosed area as carbon monoxide may accumulate and could cause death.
  • Avoid high traffic areas and declare a three-foot “kid-free zone” around grill.
  • For gas grills: Check propane tank hose for leaks before using for the first time each year. A soap and water solution applied to hose will reveal escaping propane by releasing bubbles.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from grill and call the fire department.
  • Use only charcoal starter fluid and put on coals prior to lighting. Never add starter or flammable liquids directly to fire.
  • Have a fire extinguisher accessible.
  • Never leave grill unattended.
  • Use a moist cloth or paper towel to clean the grill surface before cooking. If you use a wire bristle brush, thoroughly inspect the grill’s surface before cooking. Wire bristles from grill cleaning brushes may dislodge and stick into food on the grill.
  • Use barbecue utensils with long handles to avoid burns and splatters.

When preparing and cooking food

More than 128,000 people are hospitalized each year from food-borne illness as estimated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). That would make Father’s Day memorable for the wrong reason.

  • When shopping, pick up meat, poultry, and seafood last, right before checkout. Separate them from other food in your shopping cart and grocery bags. To guard against cross-contamination, put packages of raw meat and poultry into individual plastic bags.
  • Cook food thoroughly, using a meat thermometer. Follow safe minimum cooking temperatures, and do not leave perishable food out longer than two hours (one hour if over 90 degrees).
  • Hamburgers and other ground meat: 160° F
  • Chicken and turkey: 165°F
  • Steak: 145°F (medium rare)/ 170°F (well done)
  • Seafood: 140°F
  • Roasts, chops: (including beef, pork, lamb and veal) 145°F
  • Keep meat, poultry, and seafood refrigerated until ready to grill. When transporting, keep below 40°F in an insulated cooler.
  • Throw out marinades and sauces that have touched raw meat juices, which can spread germs to cooked foods. Use clean utensils and a clean plate to remove cooked meat from the grill.
  • Wash your hands with soap before and after handling raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Wash work surfaces, utensils, and the grill before and after cooking.
  • Use barbecue utensils with long handles to avoid burns and splatters.

Grill clean-up/ storage

More than 8,900 home fires are started by grills each year, on average according to the NFPA. These are avoidable.

  • Prevent a grease fire by keeping your grill clean—removing grease or fat buildup from grill and tray below grill.
  • Never attempt to move a hot grill. It’s easy to stumble or drop, and serious burns could result.
  • For charcoal grill: When finished grilling, let coals cool before disposing.
  • For gas grills: Never store propane cylinders in buildings or garages. If you store a gas grill inside during the winter, disconnect cylinder and leave it outside.

These best practices can make every barbecue a safe, enjoyable experience., not just on Father’s Day but all summer long.

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