Grilling Season is Here!

by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

I would think it’s rare that you would find a person that doesn’t enjoy eating grilled food during the summer time. Sitting with friends or family around a picnic table, under the rays of the sun or in the shade of an umbrella simply makes food taste better. While it is fun to be invited to a barbecue, when the tables are turned and you host, so many aspects of grill safety have to be put into action. It doesn’t matter whether you are using charcoal or propane gas, safety pointers are similar.

Safety First! We make it a rule to keep all the manufacturers and warranty papers for any item we buy. Instructions for a gas grill are vital to have on hand for its use…how to light it and the parts description that may have to be replaced in the years ahead. Always fill out the warranty card for grills and electronic appliances so the manufacturer can notify you of any defects that may have been discovered for the model you have purchased. A few minutes of your time filling out these insert cards, which many can be done online, is a safety feature worth your time. Make sure family members using the grill know the location of these booklets. Before using your grill for the first time, check for loose connections or leaks. Do not place the grill close to the house, deck railings or low branches to avoid them catching fire. Make sure the grill and the work surfaces on it are cleaned before each use. Dust can get under a grill cover and so can little critters, as we recently found a chipmunk nesting in ours when we went to use it the first time this summer! Don’t use regular household utensils for grilling, but invest in a long-handled one used to grill so you have plenty of clearance from the flames and heat.

Never leave your grill unattended, especially if children are playing or sitting nearby. For the grill chef, make sure you wash your hands after touching any raw meat, poultry or seafood. Do not put the cooked meat on the same platter you took the raw meat out to the grill on. When finished grilling, make sure the burners are totally off and you turn the valves below the grill to close off the gas.

Do not move the grill until it is totally cooled down. Speaking of cleaning, do not use steel wool pads or weak metal bristle brushes. Buy a strong wire brush for grill cleaning that is especially designed to hold up without shedding its bristles. They are a bit more expensive, but if you grill frequently, it will get plenty of use. One last note: be sure to use a cooking thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat or seafood you are cooking so it can be safely served to your family and guests.