Each year, more than 16,000 people visited emergency rooms because of grill-related injuries, one-third of which were as a result of accidents while lighting the grill, and the CDC estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (48 million) get sick from foodborne illness/food poisoning.
Whether you prefer the taste of charcoal-cooked food or the clean-burning wonder of propane, it’s important to practice safe grilling, with your equipment and your food, because nothing beats a delicious cookout during the summer months.
GRILL MAINTENANCE AND SAFETY
- For gas grills, check for leaks in your hoses before each grilling season and ensure hose connections are tight
- Make sure grilling surfaces are clean before each use. Cobwebs and dirt may have accumulated over the winter and could catch fire when you fire up the grill for the first time. Cooking on a dirty grill is also kind of gross.
- When grilling on decks or patios, be sure to leave sufficient space from siding and eaves. Never grill indoors or in a garage.
- You are the master of your grill. Never abandon your post, ensuring the safety of pets and children.
- With charcoal grills, only use charcoal starter fluids designed for barbecue grills and do not add fluid after coals have been lit. Make sure you are in a well-ventilated area as charcoal produces dangerous carbon monoxide when burned.
- When lighting a gas grill, keep the top open. If it doesn’t light the first few tries, wait five minutes to let the gas dissipate, then try again.
“Superficial burns can be treated with cool running water (not ice), followed by aloe lotion and an antibiotic ointment," explains Glen Clark, M.D., chief of Emergency Services at Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe. "For partial thickness burns (blisters) seeking medical attention ensures the best outcomes. Antibiotic ointments or hydrocolloid dressing facilitate proper healing and minimize chances of infection and complications."
Dr. Clark encourages visiting an emergency room or urgent care for anything more than a superficial burn or one with a very small area of blistering.
FOOD SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
- Make sure that food preparation areas and cooking surfaces are clean.
- Wash your hands before and after handling food like beef and chicken.
- Keep food refrigerated until ready to cook.
- Have a food thermometer handy and use it to test the internal temperature of your food (internal temperature should reach 165 degrees for poultry, 160 for pork and beef and 145 degrees for fish).
- If the meat was marinated, discard the marinade.
- Serve food while hot. Do not leave at room temperature for more than two hours.
“Most cases of food poisoning are self-limited and get better within a few days with a goal of staying hydrated," says Dr. Clark. "A visit to the emergency room is recommended for those with signs of dehydration, those with high fevers or blood in their stool, the very young or old and those with significant underlying medical conditions including cancers, diabetes, kidney problems or heart disease.”