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Top 5 Safety Tips for Pandemic Barbecues

Top 5 Safety Tips for Pandemic Barbecues

The COVID 19 crisis cancelled many summer happenings like parades and public pool openings. But one time-honored tradition remains: the backyard barbecue.

Aluminum Cans for Burned Children (ACBC), a 30-year-old organization devoted to fire prevention education for schoolchildren and support for childhood burn survivors, offers the following tips for safe grilling during the pandemic:

Tip #1: Practice grill social-distancing of 10 feet or more.

Flare ups happen whether you use gas or charcoal grills. If your grill is too close to your house, carport, garage, porch, or overhangs, you’ll burn more than your burgers. The heat also can melt aluminum siding and scorch wood shingles. Keep your grill at least 10 feet from all structures.

Tip #2: Use your horded dish soap to check for gas leaks.

Break out that 10 gallons of dish soap you bought at the start of the pandemic. Mix a solution of half dish soap and half water. Rub it on the grill’s hoses and connections. Then, turn on the gas with the grill lid open. If large bubbles form, you need to replace hoses or tighten the connections before using.

Tip 3#: Protect your stayed-at-home beard with an open lid.

Gas builds up quickly and creates a fireball if not vented.  To avoid igniting your clothes and new facial hair, keep the lid open when lighting your grill. And never leave the barbecue unattended. Fires double in size every minute. Do your other food preparation in advance to focus your flame broiling.

Tip #4: Keep on-line learning art projects and other decor away from your grill.

Your endless hours of shelter-in-place crafts go up in flames quickly if they are too close to the grill.  This includes hanging baskets as well as pillows and umbrellas that are often made of materials that burn fast and hot.

Tip #5: Conclude your COVID 19 cleaning frenzy with your grill.

What makes barbecued foods especially delicious also serves as fuel for a fire.  Remove grease and fat build up from your grill regularly to avoid flare ups.  Overloading your grill, especially fatty meats and oily sauces, also causes flare ups that ignite other foods.

Bonus Tip #1: Read your fire extinguisher instructions now that you have the time.

Since you’re stuck at home anyway, read the instructions on your fire extinguisher.  It’s useful information all year long. Mist away minor barbecue flare-ups with a spray bottle of water but keep your fire extinguisher in reach.

Bonus Tip #2:  Call 911.

Fire gets out of control rapidly.  Don’t waste precious time reading fire extinguisher instructions or asking a neighbor for help. Call the professionals.  Many severe burns and fire deaths are avoidable with a quick response from your local fire department.

After the Barbecue

When your backyard barbecue is done, be sure to recycle your aluminum beverage cans at an ACBC drop-off bin at one of more than 85 participating fire stations in Northeast Ohio. ACBC recycles cans to fund fire education prevention to 3,000 school children annually and support programs that create dignity, community and opportunity for childhood burn survivors.

Have a safe summer and happy grilling!