2 Your Health: Safety first as grilling season heats up

Basic fire safety should be a priority during the outdoor season

For the Memorial Day holiday, many people will likely head outdoors for a backyard barbeque.

Tom Waters, M.D., an emergency department physician at Cleveland Clinic, said whether using a gas or charcoal grill, basic fire safety is of the utmost importance.

Safe grilling practices

“Certainly before you light it, you want to make sure the lid’s up and if you have trouble lighting it, you may need to shut it down and let it air out for several minutes before trying again,” said Dr. Waters.

For gas grills, he recommends checking the propane tank for leaks and making sure everything looks okay before getting it started.

For charcoal grills, it’s important to keep lighter fluid away from the open flame.  Dr. Waters advised against squirting lighter fluid onto an already burning grill full of charcoal, as it can cause a fire to spread quickly.

Dr. Waters said it’s never a good idea to leave a grill in use unattended, as the food could burn and start a fire. Also, an unattended open flame could pose a serious danger to children.

Other hazards

Another item to inspect is the grill brush.  Dr. Waters suggested making sure that grill brushes are clean and in good shape before attempting to clean a grill.

If the brush is too old and rusty, it can leave metal pieces on the grill, which could then get into the food and cause injury if ingested.

And fire safety extends beyond the grill, as backyard fire pits can pose a problem as well.

“The fire pits are very popular this day in age and everybody seems to be having bonfires in their backyard,” said Dr. Waters. “Never leave that bonfire unattended, even for five minutes to walk into the house and certainly when you’re done using your fire pit, you need to make sure that it is completely out.”

If you get burned

Accidents can happen, and if you get a burn, Dr. Waters suggests the following:

  • Run the burn under cool water, to ease the burn.
  • Clean it in warm, soapy water.
  • Dress the burn with a clean, dry cloth.
  • Do NOT apply any home remedies, ointments, etc.
  • If the burn is larger than the palm of the hand, or begins to blister, get to an emergency department to have it checked out.

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