Valdosta Daily Times

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June 22, 2013

Summer Safety: Grilling Safely

VALDOSTA — During the summer months, as the days get longer and the evenings get warmer, many families enjoy spending an evening in the yard grilling. While grilling is a fun summer activity, it is also important for backyard chefs to remember how to stay safe while grilling.

The National Fire Protection Association offers many tips on grilling safety. Some of those tips are listed below:

Grill outside and away from the house. Perhaps the most important safety step for grilling is to keep the grill outside and away from the house. Grillers should also avoid putting their grill too close to any wood railings, sheds or under any low hanging coverings or trees.

Keep water or a hydrant close by. It is important to always keep a fire hydrant and also a water hose near the grill when it is in use. If flames get out of control or too high, these items can prevent fires from catching on items near the grill.

Keep children and pets at a distance. Parents should remember to never let children near the grill. Children should always stay at least three feet away from the grill to prevent injury or burns. Pets should also be kept away from the grill for the same reason.

Other safety tips for grilling include never leaving the grill unattended, never letting flames get too large and never lighting a gas grill with the lid closed. Grillers should also call 911 and move away from the grill if they smell gas while grilling. It is also important for the griller to wash their hands after touching any raw meat.

Fires, burns and cuts are not the only dangers when grilling. Food borne illnesses are another major safety issue during the summer.

Many families enjoy cold food items with their grilled meat such as a salad, cole slaw or pies. These items should never be left out in the heat before serving and should be kept in the refrigerator or freezer until time to eat. Recipes that include mayonnaise, eggs or milk are especially important to keep cold until ready to consume because these items will spoil very quickly.

Grilled meats should be always be cooked completely through before consumption. To check whether the meat is completely cooked, grillers can use a food thermometer. According to foodsafety.gov, safe minimum cooking temperatures for the most common grilled meats are: Ground beef (such as hamburger) 160 degree, poultry (such as chicken and turkey) 165 degrees, pork and ham should be 145 degrees, fish should be cooked until 145 degrees and other seafood such as shrimp and lobster should be cooked until the flesh is pearly and opaque or the inside is 145 degrees.

The tools that are used are another safety issue while grilling. Of course grillers should avoid being cut with sharp knives, however this is not the only tool that should be paid attention to while grilling. When cooking raw meat always use a different set of tongs or spatula for putting the meat on the grill and taking it off the grill. Raw juices from the meats can remain on the utensil and cause food borne illnesses. The same rule applies for plates or platters, always use a different plate to bring out the raw meat and to bring in the cooked meat.

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