We all enjoy the first signs of Spring: flowers popping, temperatures rising, sunshine, and the smell of a cook-out. Throughout Spring and Summer the sights, sounds and scents of grilling outdoors become a common and delicious occurrence in our backyards. There are a few things to remember to keep outdoor grilling safe so you can enjoy it without a trip to the emergency room and also have delicious and nutritious meals.
When we imagine outdoor grilling, many images come to mind. We might visualize a juicy steak with a delicious aroma and a savory flavor. Another image might pop into mind such as a light, tasty chicken breast with a blend of seasonings that make our mouths water to look at it. Even the thought of tenderly grilled vegatables, with a snap of flavor, will make us want to go out right now and get the grill fired up.
But we have to take a few moments to think of grilling safety before lighting the match or turning the dial on the gas tank. If we do this, our grilling experience will be fun, enjoyable and safe. It’s easy to be in a hurry and skip a few important steps when we just want to get grilling so we can enjoy that delicious food more quickly. Remember these next three steps and you’re cook-out will go off without a hitch.
First, position your grill a place that is free of anything that might be affected by severe heat. This includes siding, roofs, and small hands. Make sure your grill is not a danger to your home, your family, or yourself. It’s amazing how quickly vinyl siding will melt and disfigure if a grill is positioned too closely to the house or garage! And it’s not pretty to look at long after you’ve eaten your delicious grilled meal. Also, it would be a terrible shame to have a little hand or arm burned because the grill is positioned near where the children run and play. Making sure that the grill is off a main play area is a good step toward protecting little children who don’t always look when they are running.
Second, use caution when starting a charcoal grill. It’s fun to see how high you can get the flames when you pour on the charcoal lighter fluid, but it’s a dangerous and possibly harmful activity. Lighter fluid is not essential in starting your grill. A charcoal lighting wand or certain brands of charcoal today are just as effective and easy to use when you light the charcoal, and are safer alternatives with less of a “oily” taste to the food you cook.
Third, when you are finished grilling, dispose of charcoal completely or turn off all the burners on your gas grill. It’s so exciting when the food is done that we sometimes rush inside to enjoy our meal and forget that we have a potential hazard sitting outside. It’s important to properly care for our grills, making sure that no harmful, heated materials are going to cause damage or harm while we are eating or later. Ensure that charcoal is completely extinguished, or in the case of a gas grill, turn off every gas burner in addition to the gas valve on the take of propane. This will conserve your propane and prevent the grill from working if it is tampered with.
In addition to safety, there is also health to consider when we cook out. Grill with health in mind. Grills are a wonderful tool because they not only create delicious meals, they create healthy meals! Meat and vegetables on a grill take very little cooking oil or fatty margarine or butter to prepare. Food cooked on grills not only tastes good but it is good for us. Accompany your grilled foods with a bit of fruit or a salad and you have a delicious meal that is healthy with very little effort.