Outdoor grilling season in New York is here, a time to relax on the deck and enjoy some ribs or a juicy burger cooked to perfection on the grill. But even the most experienced grill master should take safety precautions before firing up the grill. Make sure your outdoor entertaining goes according to plan by following these grilling safety tips.
Clean and prep your grill: Fires or leaping flames are usually caused by excess grease, so be sure your grill is well-cleaned before starting it up. If you have a charcoal grill, dump out any old ashes. On a gas grill, inspect the hose that connects the propane tank to the grill and make sure there is no damage or debris replace it if necessary. Clean out the grease trap. Scrub your grill with a sturdy, stiff, steel brush, but make sure to also wipe it down with a wet cloth afterwards: Some unlucky barbecue eaters have had stray steel bristles lodged in their mouths from a batched cleaning effort.
Check for a gas leak: If you have a gas grill that hasn't been used in a while, it's worth it to take the extra step and check for a gas leak. Mix a little water with a little dish soap, and use a soft brush or spray bottle to apply the solution to the entire hose and both connections. Slowly turn on the gas; if you see bubbles anywhere, you may have a leak.
Place your grill in a safe spot: Locate your grill on a stable surface that is a safe distance away from your home, fences, foliage and other structures. Teach kids and pets to stay away from the grill, and never to play in close proximity to the grilling area.
Stay attentive: If you're the chef, stay close. Don't leave the grill unattended while it's in use. Protect yourself by using mitts and the right kind of utensils for grilling. And don't take responsibility for grilling if you've had too much to drink.
Have a backup plan: Always keep a fire extinguisher handy, and know how to treat minor burns.
Clean up: Each time you use your grill, be sure to shut it down properly: make sure coals are fully extinguished, and clean your grill thoroughly between each use.
Grilling enthusiasts may love to argue about the details, but when it comes to great grilling, there are a few things they can agree on. First, make sure your grill gets plenty of time to preheat. If you're using charcoal, don't just buy whatever stuff you can find at the gas station when you remember you need charcoal: experts recommend using natural hardwood charcoal, and even adding a few wood chips for better flavor. Don't assume everything should be cooked on super-high heat. And finally, take advantage of pro tools like grill baskets, a charcoal grill starter and a meat thermometer to get your grilling just right.
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