The sun’s out and the pool is open. This can only mean one thing: it’s barbecue season! Whether you’re hosting at the cottage or in your own backyard, we want you and your guests to have a great time. Here are a few tips to help keep everyone safe and to make sure your food is grilled to perfection.
• According to Alberta’s Office of the Fire Commissioner, July is the peak month for grill fires.
• In Ontario, from 2011 to 2015, the number one ignition source involved in civilian fire injuries is cooking equipment, at 40%.
• If used improperly, barbecue grills can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Fire Prevention Canada estimates approximately 200 deaths occur each year due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Barbecue fires can be costly. For example, one barbecue fire in Edmonton in 2015 caused approximately $1.8 million in damages. And between 2011 and 2016 in British Columbia, barbecue fires caused more than $296 million worth of damage.
• Over four million Canadians get food poisoning each year by eating contaminated foods. It is important to lower the risk by taking the necessary precautions when handling food (see “Food Grilling Tips” below).
- Never operate a grill indoors. In addition to being a fire hazard, grills release carbon monoxide, so they need to vent in open air.
- Keep your grill a safe distance away from pets and children, and at least 3 metres from flammable objects (including fences, decks, and décor items such as hanging baskets and patio umbrellas).
- Inspect your barbecue to make sure the connections are secure and the hose is in good condition without any crimps, punctures, or damages.
- You can check for leaks by applying a 50/50 solution of water and soap on the hoses. The appearance of bubbles indicates a leak. Char-Broil Grills demonstrates how to do this properly in their video.
- If you smell or suspect a gas leak, turn off both the gas tank and grill right away. If the leak stops, call a professional to service it before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department immediately.
- Clean the grill regularly. Grease and fat build up are a major cause of flare-ups.
- If you own wire-bristled brushes, Canadian surgeons urge you to throw them out as there have been numerous incidents of wires getting stuck in people’s throats. See video below for a safe grill cleaning solution!
- Never turn the gas on when the BBQ lid is closed and always follow operating instructions in the user manual.
- Keep a spray bottle of water handy to help control minor flare-ups, and make sure a fire extinguisher is within a few metres.
- Always stay with your barbecue when you are grilling. Not only will this ensure the best cooking results, but it is also for the safety of you, your family, your guests, your property, and your neighbours.
Food Grilling Tips
- If you’re firing your grill up for the first time this season, give it a good clean first. Dirt, dust, and cobwebs may have built up inside the grill over the winter months so it’s a good idea to give it a good clean with the right tools before firing up the grill.
- Prep and marinate your food the night before. This will not only give the food more flavour, but it will also give you more time to entertain and greet your guests.
- Lower the risk of food poisoning by following these steps, as recommended by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency:
- Wash your hands and anything else that will come into contact with the food.
- Separate raw and cooked foods.
- Cook foods, especially meat, to the right internal temperature. Meats cooked on a grill often brown fast on the outside, so it can be deceiving. Check by using a digital food thermometer.
- Store perishable foods and leftovers in the fridge or freezer.
Once the party’s over, it’s time for my least favourite part, cleaning up. But don’t worry – I just discovered this tip that can save you some time cleaning the grill. All you’ll need is an onion! Any large variety (white, yellow, or red) should work. The onion will loosen built-up grime and remove it from the grate. And, if you’re a fan, there’s the added bonus of the lingering smell of cooked onions! Check out the video below for a quick demonstration.
For more barbecue safety tips, check out the following resources: