Grilling is the quintessential summertime family activity. Just mentioning a BBQ conjures up visions of grassy parks, coolers with sodas, and a fiery range covered with delicious cooked meats and veggies.
It’s important to be aware of the inherent risks that come with barbequing, especially when children are involved.
Children are inherently interested in cooking and food. The process is mysterious to them, so take the opportunity to educate them about safe barbequing. Energetic and growing youngsters are inclined to be eager to eat aromatic delicacies grilling on the BBQ.
Kids are the most vulnerable to being injured by a barbeque. Not all accidents can be avoided, but this guide will provide suggestions to keep your little ones safe so accidents are at least less likely. You’ll also get some fun grilling ideas that you can do with your children.
Give Them a Grill Tutorial
Embrace children’s natural curiosity about cooking! While still turned off, show them the BBQ and explain how it works. A short tutorial will go a long way in curbing curiosity once the actual cooking has begun. Show them:
- Stop Drop and Roll: Show kids the standard procedure if their clothing was to catch on fire. Stopping, dropping to the ground, and rolling is the tried and true technique, and could save their life one day should fire get out of control.
- Heating: Demonstrate how to turn on a gas barbeque and how to adjust the flame. Let kids help arrange charcoal briquettes in a charcoal BBQ, like building with blocks.
- Food Prep: Food must undergo a fair amount of prep before it can be grilled away on the barbeque. Show your children the steps, marinating meat, skewering kabobs, wrapping potatoes or corn in aluminum foil. Showing children these steps involves them in barbequing and enhances their knowledge about cooking.
Avoiding Sharp Edges
Surprisingly, a large portion of barbeque related injuries come from being cut or scratched by the BBQ itself. Tissue wounds are the second most common injury for children, after burns. Barbeques are bulky machines mostly made of metal. Also, spatulas, metal brushes, skewers, tongs, and other barbequing tools are sharp and can cause scrapes. Be aware of jagged edges, pointy protrusions, and anything that a child-size person could bump their head on. It might even be worth it to “baby-proof” any part of the BBQ grill that seems particularly sharp with a piece of masking tape. Place metal grilling tools out of reach, preferably on a solid surface.
Safety Zone with Chalk
To be completely safe, kids shouldn’t be anywhere near the barbeque once it’s turned on. Beforehand, why not have your kids draw a border on the pavement with chalk around the BBQ area? They can draw in a safety zone, which no one should enter while the adults are grilling. Making it into a creative game will make the experience fun!
Fun Kid Friendly Foods
Think of barbequing as a way to expand your children’s culinary horizons and enhance their palette. Instilling kids with a sense that they can make tasty, healthy food at home will go a long way for their health. Those who prepare their own foods avoid the pitfalls of fast-food and takeout: excess fat and calories, low nutritional value, and expensive prices.
Some BBQ grilling ideas ideal for kids:
- Stoplight Shish-kabobs: After soaking wooden skewers in water, layer green, red, and yellow colored veggie pieces. Suggested vegetables: Tomatoes, bell peppers for red; Squash, pineapple, or bell peppers for yellow; Zucchini, broccoli, asparagus, or bell peppers for green.
- Pineapple Rings: Grilling fruit enhances the flavor and caramelizes its natural sugars. Have your kids use a small round cookie cutter to make rings in the center of sliced pineapple. Brush with a little sugar water and they’re good to go on the grill.
- Sliders: Smaller versions of classic hamburgers are perfect for pint-sized appetites. Small slider patties are easy for little hands to form and they cook through quickly.
Safety & Maintenance Tips for Grilling at Home
Placement is Key
BBQ grills must be used on heatproof flooring, at least 10 feet away from buildings or anything flammable. Barbequing should never be done inside, not even in an opened garage or tent. It is dangerous to use grills on patios, awnings, or balconies because of their proximity to buildings. It’s also important to make sure that thebarbeque is set up in a stable location, so it won’t fall over.
Leaving enough room for a cross-breeze keeps smoke from building up into a hazardous carbon monoxide miasma. Leave the grill in an area that has plenty of open space for the smoke to dissipate.
Thoroughly examine the grill before barbequing for any cracks, holes, or damage. Be sure all the pieces of the barbeque grill fit together properly.
Be sure that your BBQ grill is fully clean before and after cooking. Any leftover ash, charcoal, or grill residue needs to be brushed away and discarded. If your barbeque model comes with a drip pan, it should be emptied. A grill pad or splatter mat placed under the grill can catch any mess that the drip pan misses. This is important because build-up on the grate can cause fires.
It’s important to read the manual and instructions provided by the manufacturer before beginning your grilling odyssey. Even though it’s a drag, bear in mind that thousands of people are injured every year as a result of BBQ accidents. Also, read the fine print because misusing your barbeque can void any owner’s warranty you might have purchased.
Be especially aware of children when barbequing since they are the most likely to be injured from a grill. Even if you don’t have kids yourself, there’s a good chance that you might use your BBQ grill when other’s little tykes are around. If you have kids, it’s a good idea to give them a tutorial of the grill so they understand what makes it dangerous. Establish a “safety zone” and caution all children to stay away from the barbeque.
Obey the Heat
A barbeque can remain hot up to an hour after being turned off. You should never attempt to move or lift your grill while it’s on or still cooling.
Barbeques get extremely hot! Guard yourself from the heat using heavy duty gloves, long cooking utensils, and snug clothing. Clothing that hangs can catch fire easily, so avoid billowy sleeves, hanging apron strings, and long shirttails.
It’s not a bad idea to keep a fire extinguisher, garden hose, or at least 16 quarts of water handy, in case of flare-ups or accidents. In the event of a fire:
- Propane BBQ: Turn off the burners, and shut off the tank valve if you can reach it safely.
- Electric BBQ: Unplug or turn off electricity.
- Charcoal BBQ: Close lid over the grill
- Grease Fires: Use a fire extinguisher to damper flames. Never extinguish using water because this will cause fiery flare ups.
Don’t drink and grill! Seriously, alcohol and BBQs can be a deadly combination. Besides impairing the grillmaster’s motor skills and synapses, plus alcohol is extremely flammable!
For the Gas Barbeque…
- Propane Tanks: Inspect the cylinder of the tank for visible dents, leaks, or rust. If you see any damage, you should replace it.
- Gas Pressure: Be aware of the temperature wherever the propane tank is stored, transported, and used. Keeping the propane container in a warm area increases the pressure of the gas and could cause an explosion.
- Recycle: Do not throw away your propane tank in the trash; municipal and private programs are available for recycling. For disposable propane tanks, use all of the gas before tossing.
For the Charcoal Barbeque…
- Lighter Fluid: Only use lighter fluid on unlit charcoal briquettes, not on coals that have already been lit. Never pour fluid directly onto an open flame, the fluid path could ignite the entire container!
- Charcoal: Heated coal pieces get extremely hot, never try to handle coals or ashes. After BBQing, place the ashes in a metal container with a lid, and mix them with water. This mixture should sit for several days before being disposed of in accordance with state regulations.
For the Electric Barbeque…
- Electric Requirements: All extension cords and wall sockets must be able to handle the amperage of the electric grill. Otherwise the circuit board can become overwhelmed and start an electric fire.
- Combustible Materials: Anything flammable should be kept at least 10 feet away from the grill when it’s in use.