4 tips for safe summer grilling

With summer officially upon us, plenty of families will be heading to the backyard to light up the grill and enjoy some tasty burgers and hot dogs. The weather might be perfect, but as the National Fire Prevention Association pointed out, June and July are both peak months for grilling-related fires. According to one NFPA report from 2013, gas grills caused over 7,200 home fires between 2007 and 2011 alone. But your family's summer fun doesn't have to go up in smoke, and just a few safety tips can keep the grilling going all summer long. Here are four tips worth jotting down:

"Grills caused 7,200 home fires between 2007 and 2011."

1. Watch your spacing
As the NFPA pointed out, a large number of fires are started because people place grills too close to their homes. If your grill is on your patio, fire doesn't have to travel far to destroy precious structures or support. By the same token, you should keep your grill away from overhanging branches and out from under any eaves. Never leave a grill unattended, even if it's just for a few minutes. It doesn't take long for some burned burger patty to cause an even bigger fire.

2. Clean frequently
No matter what meat or other dishes you're cooking up, it's important to clean your grill before every use. Grease can build up quickly, and that can lead to an increased risk of fires. Plus, a grill caked with charcoal specks and charred food will affect the taste of your food. When cleaning, though, Good Housekeeping said to avoid using a wire brush. These can flake off into the grill and cause injuries down the line. Instead, use either crumpled aluminum foil or a barbecue degreasing solution.

3. Consider your equipment
You put a lot of thought into what kind of grill you buy. The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association said as much thought should be put into the tools that you use for grilling. Namely, you want to use long-handled tools, like tongs and forks, which will keep your hands away from the flame and reduce the chance of grease splatters leading to a fire. You may also want to consider  using gloves in case you're handling hot dishes or the like. Also, be aware of what you're wearing, and avoid items with frills or long-hanging shirt tails.

4. Charcoal or gas?
People usually have a preference of charcoal or gas because of flavor. However, as the NFPA explained, gas grills result in four out of five home fires. While that doesn't mean you can't use gas, Travelers Insurance explained that it means taking special safety precautions. For one, you should check the gas cylinder hoses for leaks at least once a year. This can be done by applying soap to the hose and watching for any bubbles. If you ever smell gas while cooking, get away from the grill right away and call your local fire department.

Sometimes, grilling accidents do occur, like minor burns.Other injuries, like bug bites or rashes, can happen just from being outside. If any of these occur, you can always head to your nearest CareWell Urgent Care Center. With locations across the East Coast, CareWell can get you back behind the grill ASAP.

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