Summertime means more time spent outside and more meals cooked on the grill.  However, before you do it’s a good idea to go over a few simple safety tips to ensure that your trip to the barbecue does not end with a trip to the hospital.

Food Safety- There are a few things to keep in mind when cooking out.

• The safe temperature for food is below 40 degrees and above 140.  If food is kept outside of the safe range you risk food poisoning.
• Foods should be refrigerated within an hour of when they finish cooking.
• While you might like that steak really rare, remember that undercooked meats can give rise to several food borne illnesses that would ruin a cook out.
• With that said, don’t overcook the meat either. Studies have found that a cancer causing agent, heterocyclic amines, can be found in the blackened charred meat.  Better to avoid it.

Grill safety: Before you start up the grill remember the following:

No matter what kind of grill you are using, keep a fire extinguisher near by.  Never wear loose shirts or sleeves that might catch fire.  Finally, keep flammable things like gasoline and other flammable substances that don’t need to be there, away from your grill.  

 Charcoal grills:
• Charcoal grills must placed on a level spot away from vegetation and OUTSIDE, where there is proper ventilation.
• Use only lighter fluid on charcoal.  Don’t substitute kerosene or gasoline.  What might sound like a good idea at the time, will ruin the food and possibly cause and explosion.
• Do NOT use lighter fluid on coals that have already been lit.  A serious flare up or even an explosion could occur.

Gas and Propane Grills:
• Before starting up the grill be sure to check the grill for leaks.  Make sure the lines are not crimped and if you use a propane tank that it is in good shape; free of dent, corrosion, bulges or anything else that may signal that it is compromised.
• Use caution when lighting your grill and never keep an open flame around the grill which might find its way to even a small gas leak.
• Never remove the valve on a propane tank.  Always recycle or exchange your tank and be sure to store it away from the grill and in an upright position.

Grilling is a summertime pastime, just remember that a little safety and common sense will go along way to helping you enjoy the summer tradition.