Steak, suds and safety: it’s barbecue time!

By Anita Zgbricki

Spring is here, with summer just around the corner. It’s barbecue season. Time to savor a great tasting meal you can prepare outdoors while enjoying the weather. But  make sure your barbecue is up to par. Here are some safety tips that need your attention.

DOs:

  • Complete an annual safety check, along with cleaning and maintenance, once during the year. Ensure the tubes are clear and in good repair. Insects often build nests in the tubes that can cause serious blockages. If the fittings, flex hose or burners are worn or rusted, be sure to replace them.
  • Check the cylinder connections for leaks before lighting your barbecue for the first time each season and any time you replace the tank. A leak-detection solution of equal parts liquid soap and water is handy for checking all connections for tightness.
  • Use your grill outdoors only, in a well-ventilated area clear of the house or other combustibles.
  • Open the barbecue lid before lighting. Always turn on the gas valve first.
  • Keep gas hoses away from hot surfaces and hot grease.
  • Keep children away from the gas valve and the grill.
  • Turn the valve off first when you finish to allow the gas in the hose to be burned off, so no gas remains trapped in the hose. Then turn off the burner controls.
  • Allow your barbecue to cool completely before covering it.
  • Invest in a barbecue cover to keep moisture, snow and sunlight from causing your barbecue to deteriorate.
  • Use a good barbecue grill cleaner once or twice a year for a really good clean and degrease.
  • When choosing a new barbecue make sure it passes recognized Canadian safety standards.

DON’Ts:

  • Don’t use matches or a lighter to check for leaks.
  • Don’t leave the barbecue unattended when in use.
  • Don’t wear loose clothing while operating the barbecue.
  • Don’t allow grease to build up. Clean the burners and grill regularly to minimize the risk of a serious grease fire.
  • Don’t put water on a grease fire. It will only cause the flames to flare.
  • Don’t barbecue in an enclosed space, such as a garage. For ventilation and safety reasons, move your barbecue into the open at least three metres away from windows and doors.
  • Don’t place your barbecue near wooden surfaces, beneath a combustible roof or even under a tree with low branches. Be extra careful about the area behind the barbecue where hot gases escape and could create a fire hazard.

Now that your barbecue is safe to use, invite some friends and family over to remind them what they missed all winter.

Anita Zgbricki is marketing director with Safety Services Manitoba.

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