Summer is the most enjoyable season of the year to many people for a variety of reasons. School-aged children love summer because they are generally on break from classes. Families often plan and take vacations during the summer. Other people simply enjoy the warmer weather and longer days, which give them more day-time hours for outdoor activities – one of which is backyard grilling on the barbecue. In fact, 75% of households in the United States own a barbecue grill or smoker, or they may even have a permanent BBQ pit installed in their back yard.
With BBQ season practically in full swing, you should be aware of the importance of properly maintaining and safely operating your grill or smoker to avoid the potential for injuries, property damage, or worse. Even a small tripod charcoal grill can turn a fun day into a memorable disaster. Here are several things to know about keeping your summer barbecues and backyard gatherings safe and enjoyable for everyone:
One of the best ways to ensure that your grill will be ready to go when summer arrives is to have it properly stored during the grilling off-season. You should invest in a cover for your grill if it is stored outdoors, to prevent it from being exposed to the elements. Rain, wind, and other weather conditions can cause rust and other damage to your grill, just during the several months it has been stored uncovered in your back yard. An inexpensive vinyl or plastic cover can keep your grill protected from the weather while it’s not in use.
Before Firing It Up
Rather than just tossing in the briquettes or turning on the gas valve, you should thoroughly inspect and clean your grill prior to first use. Make sure the gas feed lines are clean and clear of debris, and check and clean the inside of the grill, as well. Spiderwebs are commonly found on grills after they’ve been stored for a while, and a few spiderwebs can easily clog up a gas line (causing poor burner performance) or create a small flash-fire hazard that could’ve been avoided. During your inspection, make sure the grill’s components – legs, grate, lid hinge, and other parts – show no signs of wear or damage.
Test First, Cook Later
You should always conduct a test run of your grill’s cooking performance before you actually use it for grilling up a batch of juicy burgers or steaks. Fire up a bed of charcoal or hook up the propane and light all the burners, to make sure everything is in good working order. Check for gas leaks, improperly functioning parts, and other potential hazards. If everything looks good – start making plans for a weekend BBQ!
By keeping these storage and maintenance tips in mind for your barbecue grill or smoker, you’ll be better able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the long, hot days of summer without worrying about a backyard barbecue disaster.