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Backyard Barbeque Safety Tips

It's the weekend, and you're basking in the sun on your patio. In one hand, you're holding a cool drink; in the other a spatula. A couple of juicy steaks are sizzling on the grill, and you're savoring the smell of the flavorful smoke as it drifts past your nose. The last thing on your mind is safety, right?

It shouldn't be. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, warm-weather activities such as hosting a barbeque led to product-related injuries for more than 3.7 million people in 2002.

But here's the good news. With just a few simple, precautionary steps, you'll be well on your way to ensuring a safe cookout, every time. After all, what's more important than having the peace of mind to enjoy the real fun at any barbeque: the food, family, and friends?

Safety for Gas Grills

Since the Clean Air Act of 1990, propane has been a popular fuel source for many households' especially for gas-powered barbeque grills. Propane tanks burn more cleanly, are less expensive, and cook faster than other fuel sources.

As with any fuel source, though, itís important to take precautions when operating your propane tanks and gas grills. Follow these eight tips and keep safety first during your next cookout.

Inspect the cylinder of your propane tank for bulges, dents, gouges, corrosion, leaks, or evidence of extreme rusting. Also, examine the hoses on your grill for brittleness, leaks, holes, cracks, or sharp bends. If you find any of these problems, itís time to replace the equipment.

Be sure to keep propane tanks upright, and move gas hoses away from dripping grease and hot surfaces.

Never use cigarettes, lighters, or matches near your gas grill, whether it's in use or not. You can't be sure that there's not a slight gas leak somewhere in the unit, so it's always better to be safe than sorry.

Propane tanks require sophisticated valve equipment to keep them safe for use with grills. Never try to remove the valve from your propane tank, because youíll risk an explosion. In addition, always close the tank valve when youíre finished using it.

Never bring your propane tank indoors, and never store spare gas containers under or near your grill. Don't store other flammable liquids, such as gasoline, near propane tanks. Keep your barbeque covered when it's not in use to prevent hazardous situations.

If you must transport your propane tank for any purpose, be sure you choose a relatively cool day. Keeping containers or any other grill parts that are under pressure in a hot car will cause an increase in the pressure of the gas, which could cause an explosion.

Never dispose of your propane tank by throwing it in the trash. Check to see if there are municipal programs for collection in your area. If your grill uses a disposable tank, take care to use up all the residual gas before discarding it.

Safety for Charcoal Grills

Even though you don't have to be concerned about propane gas leaks with charcoal grills, you do need take precautions against another kind of gas; carbon monoxide. Because charcoal produces carbon monoxide, which is highly toxic, you should never burn your charcoal grill inside your home, a tent, a vehicle, or any other enclosed area.

Keep the following four safety tips in mind when using your charcoal grills:

1. Operate charcoal grills only outdoors, never inside an enclosed area. Even if you've finished grilling, and you assume all the coals are extinguished, they're still producing carbon monoxide, so keep your charcoal grills outside at all times.

2. Don't wear loose clothing, especially long sleeves, while grilling.

3. Charcoal grills tend to flare up, so keep a fire extinguisher handy.

4. Use charcoal lighter fluid to light new coals only; don't use it on coals that are already lit.

Safe Cooking: How to Reduce Cancer Risks When You Grill

Did you know that grilling meat increases the production of compounds that are linked to a greater risk of certain cancers? According to an article published by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), researchers have found evidence of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) in meats that are cooked on outdoor grills.

The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to reduce that risk. Follow these five tips to cook great barbeque safely and deliciously.

1. Marinate meats for at least 12 hours. Evidence suggests that this simple step can reduce the amount of HCAs that are formed when grilling by as much as 99 percent.

2. Try kabobs instead of large pieces of meat, such as steaks. The less time the meat spends on the grill, the better. Kabobs have short cooking times because meat is cut into small, bite-size pieces. If you must cook large portions, pre-cook the meat by baking it, and then grill for a few minutes at the end of the cooking process for added flavor
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3. Grill meat at low temperatures, and flip frequently to avoid charring.

4. Remove burnt or blackened parts of meat before eating.

5. Trim the fat from your meat before grilling to avoid drips, which cause flare-ups and charring.

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