10 things to remember when you host a BBQ

As the weather warms up, more people head outside to fire up their grills for a BBQ. While these events can be super fun, if you are not properly operating your grill, it can be extremely dangerous and turn a fun cookout into a 911 call. Here are 10 things you need to know before your backyard barbecue:

1. Understand the ins and outs of your gas grill

Gas grills are popular because they are easier to operate than charcoal grills; however, they can be more dangerous if not used correctly. According to the NFPA, “84% of grill fires are fueled by gas”. Therefore, you must understand how to properly operate your specific grill by reading the manual and watching instruction videos before getting into the actual cooking.

2. Keep the grill lid open when lighting 

When you leave your grill lid closed when lighting it, it can cause a gas buildup and cause an explosion. That will definitely put a damper on the whole BBQ.

3. Check your grill for gas leaks

Always test your gas tank any time you have purchased a new one, refilled it for the season, or anytime it has gone unused for an extended period of time. To test, make sure the burner knobs and the propane tank are turned off and that you are outdoors in a well-ventilated area away from anything that may ignite, such as electrical appliances, sparks, or open flames. Next, put together a mixture of equal parts liquid dish soap and equal parts water in a spray bottle. Then, turn the propane tank valve on to pressurize the system and spray the soapy solution onto the gas valve, the hose, and the regulator. Inspect all of the places where you sprayed this solution and see if soap bubbles formed, as this will occur and grow if there is a gas leak in any of the components. No bubbles? No leak! However, if you do see bubbles and or smell gas, turn the tank off immediately and contact an LP gas supplier or local fire department.

4. Make sure your grill has plenty of room and is on an even surface 

Make sure your grill is at least 10 feet away from any large plants, structures, children, and pets. While it might be tempting to have a BBQ underneath the shade of a tree, it is not safe as it is easy for overhanging branches to ignite. Also, be sure to know beforehand where you will be disposing of your cinders.

5. Check for rust

When a grill is left outdoors and unprotected, there is a possibility that rust may have formed. A grill with loose rust is not safe to operate as rust can prevent the grill from heating evenly as well as stick to the food, which is not good for the body to ingest. Be sure to remove the grates from the grill and wash them thoroughly with soap, water, and steel wool. Then wipe them down with a damp sponge to remove any excess. Once they are dry, inspect them again to ensure they are clean.

6. Use a meat thermometer 

Meat thermometers are the only way to make sure you are cooking your meat to the correct temperature; without it, there is no way to know if you have destroyed harmful bacteria.

Here are the proper minimum cooking temperatures: 
  • 165°F for poultry
  • 160°F for ground meat
  • 145°F for fish
  • 145°F for whole cuts of beef, pork, veal, and lamb.
  • Temperature maintenance- Hot foods should be kept at or above 145°F and all cold foods should be kept below 40°F. 
7. Have proper grilling tools 

Heavy-duty oven mitts that protect your forearms are essential when operating a grill. Further, a heavy-duty apron and proper, long-handled lighter, spatula, fork, and tongs can help you avoid burns while cooking. 

8. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby

Accidents happen, and in case of an emergency, you want to make sure you’re prepared to extinguish the flames as quickly as possible to minimize any damage. Be sure that everyone knows where it is ahead of time and how to operate it.

9. Do not cover the grill before it has had time to cool

After you have finished cooking, the grill will stay hot for a while. If you try to cover it before it has had ample time to cool, you could cause the cover to burn. 

10. Have the right insurance

Your insurance policy might not be the first thing that comes to mind when prepping for a summer BBQ, but it should be. In the event that a mishap occurs, you want to make sure that you have the proper liability protection. Our umbrella liability insurance gives you peace of mind that you, your family, and your assets will be covered if you are ever faced with a liability claim. Learn more about our umbrella insurance here.