When the weather is nice and you want to get outside, you may decide that this is the perfect time to do some outdoor grilling. Whether you are cooking in your own backyard, at a campsite, or at a picnic area, it is important to keep in mind some ways in which you can ensure that you cook safely in order to protect yourself or anyone else from harm.
Cooking outside can be a fun experience for the entire family, but it can also be dangerous. Cooking accidents can occur both inside and outside. There are ways to prevent your family from any injury from these accidents as well as ensure no foodborne illnesses occur.
Continue reading to learn ways in which you can cook outdoors safely as well as some tips to ensure no one is injured or develops a foodborne illness when you are cooking outside. Continue reading to also learn about some of the dangers of cooking outside.
How Do You Cook Outside Safely?
Cooking outdoors often involves lighting a grill in order to cook whatever food you decide to cook, whether it be burgers, hotdogs, or grilled fruit. This may prompt you to immediately fire up the grill and start cooking, but some safety measures should be taken when the food is taken out of the fridge or cooler as well as necessary precautions should be taken into account before lighting the grill.
Below are 15 tips to help you ensure injuries do not occur nor do any foodborne illnesses develop when you are cooking outdoors.
15 Tips For Cooking Outside Safely
Do not wear loose-fitting clothing. Grills tend to have open areas where you are able to see the flames that are used to cook your food. These flames can get large depending on the lighter fluid you are using to keep the fire going. Loose-fitting clothing could get caught on the grill or can catch fire if closely exposed to these flames.
Do not pour lighter fluid onto a lit grill. Splashing or pouring lighter fluid onto a lit grill can cause a flashback to occur. During a flashback, the flames of the grill rise very high or a ball of flames moves to the front of the grill. This can cause serious burns to those who are in the immediate area of the grill.
When cooking your food, cook in small batches. Cooking in small batches helps to prevent overloading your grill. This is especially important if you are cooking a lot of fatty meats. The fat from the meats can drip onto the grill flames, and too much of this can cause a flare-up to occur.
Do not use a grill in an enclosed location. This includes places like garages, patios with covering, and tailgate tents. You want to grill in areas that are well ventilated. This will allow for no build-up of smoke from the grill as you are cooking.
Do not pour water onto the grill to put out the flames. If the flames of the grill get too high, cut off the oxygen supply to the flames of the grill. This will allow for the flames to die down without causing the grill to become wet. Using water will cause the grill to not light easily and make it more difficult to cook your food.
Make sure your grill is cleaned before cooking on it. You want to check the trays underneath the grill as well as the heating element for any grease, debris, or anything that may cause a fire hazard. Debris and grease can cause the flames to flare up which can cause possible injuries from the flames.
Know where your children and pets are while you are cooking. Make sure your children know not to come too close to the grill and keep your pets a safe distance away from the grill. A curious pet or child may attempt to touch the hot grill, and this can cause the child or pet to get burned.
Along with cleaning your grill, clean your grilling utensils when you are finished using them, and store them inside when they are not being used. Germs and bugs can get on your utensils if you leave them exposed. These can then transfer from the utensils onto your food which can lead to possible illnesses.
Have a first aid kit on hand. Basic burn kits can help to relieve and heal minor burns and help you tend to more serious burns before you get to a medical facility if the burn is that serious.
Basic burn kits can include:
- Antiseptic ointment
- Pain-relieving ointment
- Gels (aloe vera)
- Bandages or gauze
- Pain relievers
- Cold packs
It can also be helpful to have a basic first aid kit on hand as well. While the items in a basic first aid kit are for many different injuries, you can find items that can help with burns.
Check the temperature of your meat. Make sure you cook meats, such as chicken or beef, all the way through, so there is no pink in the middle. Certain bacteria can exist on meats that are not cooked or prepared correctly, and this can lead to certain illnesses.
Use proper equipment when cooking. Use utensils such as tongs or long forks when cooking on a grill. This allows you to not have to use your hands to turn the meat and other foods in order to cook them evenly. Using your hands can cause you to get burned.
Do not leave your grill unattended. If you leave your grill unattended, there is a high likelihood of something falling onto the food you are cooking or of your food becoming burnt if left on the grill for too long.
In case the fire gets out of control, keep a fire extinguisher nearby. If the flames flare up too much and get out of control, it is important to have a fire extinguisher to extinguish the flames. The flare-up could cause people to get burned as well as a small fire to start and possibly spread.
Never use gasoline, kerosene, or fuel oil to light your grill. This can cause the flames to flare up more than they should, and they can leave residue on your food which can be dangerous if consumed.
When using a charcoal grill, let the coals cool completely before disposing of them. This will prevent a possible start of a fire when the hot coals are disposed of. A method that can help ensure that the coals are cooled off is to take the coals and cover them with water.
Importance Of Cooking Safely Outdoors
Whether you are cooking indoors or outdoors, safety should be a top priority. If one is not careful, many different injuries can occur when one is doing something as basic as cooking. The steps one can take to prevent these are as simple as keeping the food clean, keeping the grill or stove clean, and making sure you are not wearing clothing that is too loose.
By following outdoor cooking safety precautions, you are able to minimize the likelihood of foodborne illnesses, injuries, and other dangers. It is also wise to keep note of the instruction manual for the grill you are using. Proper maintenance of the grill can also help lower the chance of injuries from the grill as well as keep the grill in working order.
By following the tips listed above, you can keep yourself and others safe when cooking outside. It is also a good idea to keep in mind how you prepare your food as that can also play a part in foodborne diseases, but this applies to both indoor and outdoor cooking, which is why it is not necessarily listed in the 15 tips.
Dangers Of Outdoor Cooking
Cooking outdoors can present many dangers. These can range from small burns that do not require medical attention to foodborne illnesses which can be very deadly. While there are many possible ways that something dangerous can occur while cooking outside, there are two main issues that you want to try to avoid. These problems are:
- The development of foodborne illnesses
Let’s get into them below.
When cooking, both inside and outside, there are many disease-causing germs that can contaminate the foods you are planning to eat.
There are many foodborne diseases that can develop from these germs. These diseases include:
- E. coli
Each of these diseases can be contracted from eating food that has been contaminated by the particular bacteria that is associated with each disease. While some foodborne illnesses, such as Norovirus, can be cured at home, others tend to require hospitalization, such as E. coli.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), foodborne illnesses get 48 million people sick every year. 128,000 of these people are hospitalized, and 3,000 die as a result of foodborne illnesses. This is why it is important to take certain precautions when cooking food in order to keep these illnesses from developing and spreading.
As previously stated, it is easy for a flashback or flare-up to occur when cooking on a grill. These can cause you, whoever is cooking, and anyone in the immediate area to possibly be burned. While these burns can be minor, it is possible for a more severe burn to occur.
In order to prevent these kinds of accidents from occurring, it is important to clean your grill before you begin cooking on it as well as after you have finished cooking. You want to clear out any grease or debris that may still be on the grill as these can be fuel for a flashback or flare-up the next time you light your grill.
It is also important to know where your children and pets are while you are cooking outside. A curious pet or child may be driven by their curiosity to touch the hot grill, and this could result in your pet or child getting burned.
It is important to keep a first aid kit or burn kit nearby when cooking outside as well as keep a fire extinguisher in case of a fire. Another thing to keep in mind regarding outdoor cooking and fire is to consider other alternative cooking methods rather than outdoor cooking during times when there is a high likelihood of fire danger.
Fire can be dangerous if it gets out of control, so it is best to not leave your grill unattended and to have a water supply or fire extinguisher nearby just in case.
Cooking outdoors is a fun activity to do when the weather is nice and warm. While outdoor cooking can be fun for the whole family, it is important to keep some safety measures in place in order to prevent the development of foodborne illnesses and to prevent injury from fire.
There are many steps that can help to keep foodborne illnesses from developing as well as ensuring no injuries occur from cooking.
From ensuring that your grill and utensils are clean to wearing clothing that is not too loose to not putting lighter fluid on a grill that is already lit, these precautions can help make sure you are enjoying your time cooking outside without losing many dangers. It is also important to keep your children and pets away from the grill while you could, so they do not get burned.