News: Safety First: Safe Summer Cookin’
Story by Master Sgt. Kevin Wallace
RAF MILDENHALL, England -- Do you smell it? The aroma of slow-burning charcoal, sizzling steaks, hot dogs and fresh Alaskan salmon is lingering in the mild Suffolk air.
The British summer is in full-swing. For many Americans, the sporadic hot, sunny days are a prime opportunity to fire up the old barbecue, and grill their favorite dish.
Grilling-out is a staple of American culture, and asking anyone to not barbecue just isn't realistic. By following safety advice from the U.K. National Healthcare Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Fire Prevention Agency and the 100th Air Refueling Wing Safety Office, grilling can be as safe as cooking indoors.
Grills should only be lit and supervised by adults, according to the safety office. Keep children away from grills and seek immediate first-aid treatment if someone is hurt.
The USDA warns grillers to keep everything clean.
"Be sure there are plenty of clean utensils and platters," states the USDA website. "To prevent food-borne illness, don't use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat [or poultry]. Harmful bacteria present in raw meat, poultry and their juices can contaminate safely cooked food.
"If you're eating away from home, find out if there's a source of clean water," continued the website. "If not, bring water for preparation and cleaning, or pack clean cloths, and moist towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands."
Unsupervised barbecues are a large contributor to house fires, warns the NFPA, who states that flammable or combustible gas is more likely to start a fire than charcoal grills. According to NFPA figures, 56 percent of outdoor house fires stem from grilling.
The NHS warns Britons to properly cook meat on a barbecue, by making sure:
• The coals are glowing red with a powdery gray surface before you start cooking, as this means that they're hot enough.
• Frozen meat is properly thawed before cooking.
• Turn the meat regularly and move it around the barbecue to cook evenly.
Remember that meat is safe to eat only when:
• It's piping hot in the center.
• There's no pink meat visible.
• Juices are clear.
"Don't assume that because meat is charred on the outside it will be cooked properly on the inside," said a FSA spokesperson. "Cut the meat at the thickest part and ensure none of it is pink on the inside."
Still imagining that aroma of slow-burning charcoal, sizzling steaks, hot dogs and fresh Alaskan salmon, why not make that image a reality, with these additional safety tips?
General grill safety:
• Do not place an operating grill next to your house.
• Place grills where they won't tip over or ignite objects above them.
• Keep grills away from open window and doors.
• Do not use grills under awnings or carports.
• Do not place within 15 feet of combustible material.
• Dorm residents must use designated picnic areas.
Charcoal grill safety:
• Only apply lighter fluid on coals before fire is ignited.
• Never use gasoline to start a fire.
• Always soak coals in grill with water after cooking.
• Store unused charcoal in dry, well-ventilated area.
Gas grill safety:
• Always store outside when gas bottle is connected.
• Ensure no gas leaks. Prior to each use, check hoses and regulator.
• Check igniter switch for operation prior to turning on.
• Use caution when igniting grill.
Editor’s note: This story is part two of the ‘Safety First’ summer safety series.