June is the month that welcomes the official start of summer. Barbecues get fired up; sprinklers water kids on a hot day; the pool is the place to be on a Saturday afternoon. If you are a backyard chef that can’t wait to get grilling, here are some ways to safely use the grill this summer.
Prep the Grill
Whether you own a gas grill or charcoal grill, regular inspections and cleanings at the start of the grilling season will extend its life and make whatever is cooked on it taste even better. It will also prevent flare-ups and incidents caused by loose connections or ash buildup.
Inspect the Grill
If you haven’t seen the grill since the last time you used it in the fall or it hasn’t been used in a long time, inspect it inside and out. Look for:
- Rust (if left outside)
- Pests (if stored inside)
- Cracks on fuel lines (gas grills)
- Loose connections and possible gas leaks (gas grills)
Once the grill has been inspected, give the barbecue a thorough cleaning. Don’t forget to clean your grill tools at the same time.
How to Clean a Gas Grill
- Preheat the grill – it’s easier to clean while it’s hot
- Once the gas is off , remove food and grease with a wire brush dipped into soapy water
- Wiping the grate off with a damp cloth
- Apply a spray cooking oil to the grates – it makes it easier to remove food after each use
- Clean the heat deflectors
- Remove and clean the burners to prevent blockages
- Clean the cook box; wipe clean the underside of the lid
- Reinstall the burners
- Use a stainless steel cleaner to clean the outside of a steel grill; soap and water will effectively clean grills made of painted steel, porcelain or ceramic
How to Clean a Charcoal Grill
- Clean the grates with a long-handled wire brush
- Apply vegetable oil spray to the grate to help prevent food from sticking
- Remove any ash and leftover chunks of unburnt charcoal in the base of the grill
- Clean the insides of the cook box and lid with mild dish soap and a brush
- Replace the charcoal grate
- Now clean the outside of the charcoal grill with soap, water and a soft cloth
Proper Grill Placement
When positioning a grill on a patio or deck, park it at least 10 feet away from the siding or the exterior wall of attached structures such as a garage, carport, or porch.
Avoid putting the grill directly beneath a wood overhang or underneath the eaves.
If you have a clearly defined play area for the kids, place the grill as far away as possible.
Never invite the grill inside. Especially if the grill is small, when it rains or becomes too windy, you might be tempted to bring it indoors or use it in the garage. Any type of grill in an enclosed space is a fire hazard. It also releases carbon monoxide, a deadly odourless, colourless gas that easily builds up to dangerous levels in poorly ventilated areas that can kill people and pets.
More Grilling Season Safety Tips
Keep pretty things away from the grill and grilling area. Items such as hanging baskets, pillows, cushions, and patio umbrellas are often made of artificial fibers that burn hot or instantly melt, retaining heat.
Invest in a fire extinguisher – store it nearby when the grill is in use. Know how to use it properly and be aware of its expiry date.
Have a safety plan in place. It could be a simple as a few house rules (no running or playing around the grill) or as detailed as a designated “fire marshal,” an appointed person who calls 911 if required, and someone in charge of updating the first aid kit and making it accessible when needed.
Always make sure the lid is open before lighting your gas grill.
Never add lighter fluid or any other flammable liquids to the charcoal once the fire’s been lit.
Stay alert. Watch out for flare ups and be prepared to get them under control. Never leave the grill unattended.