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BBQ Safety while You Smoke or Grill

Part of the BBQ Sauces, Rubs and Marinades For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Safety is paramount whenever you barbecue. Every year a surprising number of good times around the barbecue grill end up as scary times because of accidental burns or fires. Follow these tips for keeping your cooking on track.

  • Keep your grill, smoker, or chimney starter at least 10 feet away from your house, trees, and anything else that may catch fire.

  • Avoid loose-fitting clothing. You don't need to wear tight shirts and pants, but loose clothing is much more likely to catch fire than fitted clothing.

  • Keep a fire extinguisher within reach, or have a hose at the ready for addressing any accidental or out-of-control fires.

  • If you plan to cook on a wooden deck, thoroughly wet down the area before you start.

  • Make sure the young'uns keep their distance. Delineate the "no-kid zone" by making a chalk line about a 10-foot radius from the grill or smoker.

  • Don't use lighter fluid. Lighter fluid isn't ideal for barbecue flavor in the first place, and it's downright dangerous if you try to add it to already hot charcoal. It can catch fire, and that fire leads right back to the bottle in your hands.

  • Don't improvise lighter fluid. The stuff is nasty to begin with, but trying another flammable in its place when you're in a pinch is incredibly dangerous.

  • Be careful with alcohol. Yes, alcohol and outside cooking are no strangers — in many eyes, they're inseparable — but that delicious whiskey you're sipping is flammable. Keep that in mind.

  • *Be good to your grates. Clean grates don't catch fire. Gunked-up, grease-ified grates do.

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