What’s an ideal summer without a few adventures in grilling? Now is the perfect time to fire up the grill and dive into some delicious seasonal recipes (and try out a few no-grill side dishes), because nothing says summertime like grilled burgers and fresh watermelon!
Seven outdoor grilling safety tips
If you’re a renter preparing to grill at your apartment, there are a few common errors to avoid, whether you’re cooking on your personal or community grill. The following outdoor grilling safety tips (for both charcoal and gas models) will help keep you out of harm’s way when things start to heat up.
1. Give your grill enough space.
It makes sense you’d want to enjoy the shade while grilling, but having a tree branch or an awning too close to your grill can be dangerous. Since embers can float up and spark a fire, you’ll need to give your grill enough space, at least ten feet away from your apartment building, garage, or low limbs. Similarly, keep decorations (like hanging baskets or umbrellas) away from your grill, as they can provide fuel for a fire, as well.
2. Never start a gas grill with the lid closed.
Lighting your grill with the lid closed is a major no-no, as it can cause a buildup of gas and ultimately create a fireball. When lighting your gas grill, always keep the lid open. If the flame goes out, turn off the grill and gas and wait a minimum of five minutes before relighting.
3. Never leave a grill unattended.
It can be easy for accidents to happen if you’re not paying attention, so make it a rule never to leave a grill unattended. This way, you can protect kids and pets from unintentionally bumping into the grill or coming in contact with a hot surface. As an added precaution, it’s often recommended to keep kids three feet away from the grill even after you’re finished cooking.
4. Practice food safety.
Ensuring your food is thoroughly cooked should be a priority, since meat is only safe to consume after being heated to a high enough temperature to kill off harmful bacteria. But ‘eyeing’ that steak to make sure it’s ready isn’t enough; you’ll need to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature before calling it done.
Additionally, be careful not to cross-contaminate any food you’re cooking. Since raw meat contains bacteria that can make you sick if transferred to cooked foods or other surfaces, you’ll need to use clean utensils and a clean plate to remove cooked meat from the grill.
5. Always shut down your grill after use.
The burgers are cooked, and your family is gathered around the table — it’s the perfect time to sit down to eat. But before you do, make sure to turn off the grill. As soon as you’re done cooking, turn off all the burners and the fuel supply for gas grills. When using charcoal, let the coals cool off entirely before disposing of them in a metal container.
6. Remember to keep your grill clean.
To clean your grill, first close the lid and turn the gas to high for ten minutes to burn off any remaining food, sauces, or grease. Next, remove the grates, soak them in soapy water, and then scrub them with a steel wool pad. Removing buildup from the grates and drip trays will reduce the risk of flare-ups and give your future self something to thank your past self for.
7. Be prepared in case of a fire.
While you hope it doesn’t happen, it’s essential to be prepared should a fire suddenly start. It’s smart to have baking soda stocked in case of a grease fire (never use water to put one of those out) and keep a fire extinguisher on hand (and know how to use it).
Five best practices for safe grilling
Even if you know the unwritten apartment grill rules (schedule your grilling time, clean up after yourself, don’t hog the grill), there are still a few pointers for safely grilling in a shared outdoor area or on your private patio. Here are just five of the best practices for summer BBQ safety.
1. For gas grills, make sure the hose connection is tight, and double-check for potential gas leaks (especially when using the grill for the first time this season).
2. For charcoal grills, only use lighter fluid to set the charcoal on fire (and use it sparingly).
Avoid adding lighter fluid to a grill that’s already lit and doing well.
3. Do not leave lighter fluid, lighters, or matches anywhere within reach of children.
4. Always use the proper barbecue tools to prevent burns, like long-handled utensils and flame-retardant mitts specifically made for grilling.
5. Cook your food in small batches to avoid overloading the grill or causing a flare-up.
Hopefully, this list has given you some useful insights to implement so you can have the best barbecue possible. And if your current complex doesn’t allow grilling or lacks a community grill, ApartmentSearch is always here to help you find a place that’ll let you grill in future summers — possibly even poolside! Be sure to follow these outdoor grilling safety tips, and get ready to enjoy some fun in the sun with your family, friends, and fantastic food.