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Eight Tips for Throwing a Safe Summer BBQ

BBQ season is in full swing, and whether you’re a first-time griller or an expert like Bobby Flay, there’s something about cooking outdoors that really brings a meal together.  Tongs in one hand and a spatula in the other is a good start to cooking the perfect hotdogs, steaks and fish on the grill, but there are other preparations a chef should consider, too, like having the right recipe.

So, will it be Kansas City or Memphis style baby back ribs?  I personally am a Kansas City BBQ fan, but the possibilities are endless. If you’re into dry rubs, About.com has recipes.  If your taste buds crave sauces, the Food Network is a good place to start.

Cookouts can be the highlight of the summer season, however, the inherent danger of cooking with an open flame can threaten the success of a BBQ and the safety of you and your guests.  According to the U.S. Fire Administration, an estimated 5,700 grill fires on residential properties have resulted in $37 million in property loss during the past three years.  So before you fire up the grill, it might be a good idea to reassess your insurance policies to make sure you’re covered in the event something goes wrong.  

Knowing some basic fire safety tips can also keep your family, friends, pets and home safe during summertime gatherings.  These nine tips can help keep your BBQs fun and hazard-free.

1.       Grill in an open area.  Barbecuing in enclosed spaces poses a fire hazard and you risk exposing people to carbon monoxide.  Position the grill away from siding, deck railings and out from under eaves and tree branches.

2.       Create a safety zone.  Never allow children to use or play around the grill, so create a safety zone of at least three feet.

3.       Avoid wearing loose clothing.  Chefs should use appropriate long-handled grilling tools and wear fitted clothing to ensure plenty of clearance from heat and flames.

4.       Keep your grill clean.  Periodically remove grease and fat buildup in the grill’s drip tray to avoid ignition by heat.

5.       Do not use lighter fluid on a lit propane grill or already lit coals.  The fire may return into the fluid container and blow up in your hands.

6.       Check your propane grill before each use.  The connection between the propane tank and fuel line should be securely tightened and tubes leading into the burner should be clear of any debris and blockage.  Leaks in fuel lines can be detected by applying a light soap and water solution, which will reveal escaping propane by releasing bubbles.

7.       Properly dispose of hot coals.  Let coal ash cool completely before wrapping it in aluminum foil and placing it in a noncombustible outdoor trash bin. (Ash can take up to 72 hours to cool.) You can speed up the cooling process by pouring water over hot coals and stirring carefully.  Never empty coals directly into a trash can.

8.       Keep a fire extinguisher handy.  Learn how to use it before a fire occurs. Fire extinguishers should only be used on small fires.  For large fires, evacuate the area immediately and call fire rescue services.

In the event of a fire, call 911, make sure everyone is safe and report any damage and losses as soon as possible to your insurance company.  Don’t remove debris or damaged property that may be related to your claim. Insurance companies like Mercury Insurance have claim agents available 24/7 and can walk you through how to file a homeowners insurance claim.

Now, you’re armed with the tools to host a great BBQ, so heat up those coals or turn on the propane tanks and get grilling.

Dave Fawcett

Ludwig & Fawcett

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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