“There ain’t no cure for the Summertime Blues…” – Eddie CochranCredit: BuBBy_ from USA
Mr. Cochran’s protestations aside, anyone with a backyard patio, a pool deck or any other grilling space knows that this statement is simply not true. How do you solve the problem of the summertime blues? Simple. You have a backyard barbecue.
Just get on the phone, make some calls and when ten or twenty of your closest friends arrive, there’ll be no more talk of tryin’ to earn a dollar, workin’ late or even that Monday’s still comin’. Nothing brings people together like some good barbecued meat, some great music and raisin’ a little fuss.
Safety First, "Blues" Elimination Second
With all the hootin’ and hollerin’ going on, cooler heads should take charge and ensure that the cooking area is safe and secure. The prudent homeowner should remember that fire, in general, and backyard barbecues, in particular, can pose some significant risks to him, his family and his guests.
A little proactive management and some prudent safety precautions can limit, if not entirely eliminate, these risks. Here are five great ways to keep your grilling and outdoor cooking a lot safer and more enjoyable.
Always Have a Fire Extinguisher Nearby
Credit: JonathanLambDespite the incessant ribbing that a plainly evident fire extinguisher will evoke form your best friends; keep it right next to the grill. There are simply too many stories that begin,“If only I had a way to put out the fire….” and end with a severely burned person.
The best extinguishers are rated “ABC” which means that they are appropriate for use on every type of fire from simple wood fires to more problematic grease ones. These compact, versatile and affordable appliances are well worth the peace of mind that they afford; no matter how much ribbing that you take from your guests.
Use a Spray Bottle for Proactive Fire Suppression
Credit: Thomas RichterThe best problem is the one that never develops. Nowhere is this fact truer than when it comes to fire. For this reason, the outdoor cook should always keep a source of readily available water near the grill to control an overgrown fire, cinders of any other unexpected flare-ups.
A small spray bottle of will effectively keep a charcoal fire in check while bottled water can be used to douse a grill fire that has grown too large. In addition, it can also keep the chef from overheating.
Maintain the Proper Distances from Other Fuel Sources
Credit: Tom Harpel from Seattle, Washington, United StatesGrill makers place a lot of warnings inside the instruction manual and on stickers attached to a new grill. No advice that these knowledgeable people give is more important than maintaining the proper distance between your outdoor grill and your home or any other combustible items.
In case you didn’t notice, the summer gets very hot. It tends to dry out everything and make it far more amenable to burning. Everything from the eave on your house to that dead tree that you still haven’t removed will burn at the slightest provocation. Enough said. Just pay close attention to where you park the grill.
Keep An Eye on the Little Ones
Unfortunately, children do not recognize the general dangers of life much less the specific ones inherent in fire. The touch of a small hand on the outside of a red-hot grill or a child simply getting too close when a grill top is opened can lead to severe burns or even worse. Simply put, children and grills do not mix.
Keeping an eye on one’s your children is a wide precaution at any time of the year or in any place but especially true when a hot grill is involved. The potential for injury is too great and too swift to allow any room for error. The chef or some other adult should always attend to a hot grill to keep the unsuspecting and the unwary away.
Don't Overindulge - Especially While You are Cooking
No one denies that half the fun of a backyard barbecue is cutting loose, joking around an generally not paying attention to any of life’s worries for a short time. Still, real life intrudes and family and guests must be properly cared for. To this end, it is the ultimate responsibility of the host to provide a safe environment and maintain his own composure and sobriety while cooking and entertaining. Enjoy your libations but in moderation.
Remember that too much sun, fun, food or alcohol can have a truly dampening effect on the best of get-togethers. This safety tip, while not directly related to fires, is probably the most important. Stay aware and stay safe.
A Final Wake Up Call - The Statistics on Backyard Barbecue Accidents
- Every year, US fire departments respond to nearly 2,000 home fires involving barbecues, grills, smokers, or hibachis. These fires are almost completely avoidable. The mistake that homeowners make is thinking that it cannot happen to them.
- Shockingly, children under five account for approximately 22 percent of burn injuries involving grills. No sane parent lets their children play in a pool unattended lest they drown. Still, these same parents will let a child run amok on a deck with a fully operational grill. It boggles the mind. The trauma from a grill is instantaneous while a pool takes several minutes to do damage.
- According to the Home Safety Council, fires and burns are the third leading cause of unintentional injuries and related deaths in the average American home. The Council further states that almost all of these accidents are completely avoidable with the simplest of routine, precautionary measures.
- The National Fire Protection Association reports that on average, grill fires cause approximately $70 million in property damage, 120 severe injuries and13 deaths. Seriously, if you can’t keep people safe at an outdoor barbecue, you have no business having any friends.
- Propane gas users must be especially careful as four out of every five grills involved in home fires were fueled by gas while the rest used charcoal or wood. Propane gas tanks are designed and manufactured to take a lot of abuse. It is when they are purposely opened and then misused that they pose the greatest risk.