From gas leaks to charred meat, to mixing cooked and raw, here's what not to do this grilling season if you want to stay healthy.
1. Assuming your grill is ready to go
If your grill has been sitting idle all winter, it's a good idea to check it before lighting it up.
"Failing to properly clean the grill or having the grill too close to something that could burn are the leading causes of fires," says Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy for the National Fire Protection Association.
Home chefs should also check for any damage before using the grill for the first time each year, and to check the entire grill regularly." In 2012 to 2016, an average of 16,600 patients per year were taken to emergency rooms because of injuries involving grills.
2. Not checking your hoses
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fire departments were called to an average of 9,600 home fires involving grills, hibachis, or barbecues per year from 2011 to 2015. The NFPA recommends applying a soap and water solution to hoses to check for gas leaks. If a leak exists, bubbles will form.
Turn off the grill and close the tank. If the leak stops, you may simply need a grill service. If the leak continues, call the fire department immediately. Here are 9 other grilling mistakes even seasoned BBQ cooks make.
3. Not checking your gas tank
Your guests are all lined up waiting for that first juicy burger of the season and your flames die out because you forgot to check the tank for adequate gas. While taking your tank to be refilled, check that it's still qualified for use.
Guidance from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration suggests that propane tanks be re-qualified or replaced every 5 to 10 years. Dates are indicated around the top and neck of the cylinder tank.
And regardless of the date, if your tank shows signs of rusting, dents, bulging, cracks, or faulty valves, you'll need a new one.
4. Using an old grill brush
If you've been scrubbing the grill grates with the same old grill brush for years without a second thought, it's probably time for a new one. Injury from wire grill brushes recently led to 1,600 emergency department visits, according to an article in the Journal Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.
Then there's the problem of actually swallowing loose bristles—and claims from that type of injury can be found at the Consumer Advocacy website saferproducts.gov. Before using last year's grill brush, check for loose bristles, then wipe the grates down thoroughly after using the brush.
5. Not preheating enough
A grill (charcoal or gas) needs to preheat for about 15 minutes till the temperature reaches around 500 degrees, according to Weber's Tips and Tricks for Grilling Success.
Preheating your grill gets the grate hot enough to sear properly and helps prevent food from sticking. It also helps burn off extra bits of food left on the grate, so it's easier to clean.