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Gonna fire up that grill?

Before you start take a moment and make sure you're SAFE!

Never ever forget - don't squirt fuel on a hot briquette!

Whenever you grill, keep safety in mind! The number one rule is NEVER squirt lighter fluid on hot briquettes. This is very dangerous! Why? When you squirt the plastic bottle you send a stream of fuel into an ignition source. After you release the sides of the plastic bottle it normally expands back to recover it's original shape; sucking in air along with it. This can cause a vacuum effect and could suck a flame as it follows the vapor trail directly into the bottle. The result could be a violent explosion of the fuel liquid. As the liquid violently escapes the bottle some of it could be sprayed onto you causing you to catch fire as well. The explosion itself could seriously and permanently injure you. So just don't do it!

Below are some more important safety tips to help keep your cookout as safe and enjoyable as possible.

 Start the fire easily and safely:

  • Place grill away from dry grass, bushes, the house and out of the wind if possible. Never leave it unattended once the coals are ignited.
  • Line the grill with heavy duty foil. It reflects heat and so spes cooking and makes cleanup a snap. If the grill bottom has vents, puncture foil so air can circulate.
  • Set out a single layer of briquettes extending about an inch beyond the food. On a cold day you will need more briquettes to offset lower outside temperatures. If you are grilling fatty meats like hamburger, use fewer briquettes to keep the fire cool and reduce flare-ups. Use more briquettes when grilling lean meats or poultry. Experiment with different brands - some briquettes are easier to light, and give off more heat.
  • To get the fire started, push the briquettes into a pyramid - they will light more quickly.
  • Use a charcoal lighter to start the fire, choosing from liquid, solid or jelly types; or use a UL approved electric starter. Follow manufacturer's directions to the letter. Let the liquid type soak into the briquettes for a minute or so before lighting the fire.
  • Never use gasoline, alcohol or other highly volatile fluids - they are extremely dangerous.
  • Let briquettes burn till they are covered with a layer of gray ash (seen in daylight) or are glowing red (at night). This will take 20 to 40 minutes.

 Controlling the cooking temperatures and containing flare-ups are easy with these basic tips:

  • Spread hot briquettes in a single layer and place food on the rack.
  • To put out flare-ups caused by spattering fat raise the rack and spread out coals. Or, if you must douse the flames with water, remove food from grill then squirt water on the fire with a plastic pump-spray bottle - good to keep on hand because you aim at the flare-up, not the entire fire.
  • After barbecuing, be sure to extinguish coals thoroughly. If grill has vents to regulate charcoal temperature, closing them will reduce oxygen and help extinguish coals.

 Special barbecuing accessories really help you cook like a pro: long handled tongs (one for handling the food, a second for the coals), pancake turner, two tined fork, mitts, water-filled pump spray bottle for dousing flare-ups.

 One final tip: be sure there is adequate ventilation to remove carbon monoxide formed by the fire. Grilling outdoors is always the safest. Never grill in an enclosed area such as a camper, trailer, tent or on a closed porch. Carbon monoxide can be fatal.