Now that it’s the height of summer, many of us will be regularly lighting up the grill while spending quality time with family and friends. A 2016 poll reported that 75 percent of U.S. adults own a grill or smoker. In fact, during the Fourth of July weekend, Americans consumed over one-hundred and fifty hot dogs alone, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.
While our summer cookouts are all in good fun, it’s important to take certain safety precautions as the temperature heats up. Here are three hacks to stay safe during your next grill.
Get Educated on Fire Safety
Before you start flipping burgers, make sure you take important fire safety precautions. July is the peak month for grill fires, which result in $37 million in property loss each year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
The first step to safe grilling is keeping the grill rack clean. Failing to do so is the leading cause of grill fire, according to the National Fire Protection Administration, because as grease and fat build up, they provide more fuel. Before you start cooking, make sure your grill sits at least ten feet away from your house, that you have a fire extinguisher handy and that you’re regularly checking for gas leaks.
Now that you’re prepared, try these healthy recipes to throw on the grill at your next get-together.
Learn How to Keep Your Food Safe Outdoors
Don’t let the heat spoil your food and your fun. Every year, one in six Americans gets food positioning, and there’s a spike in the summer months, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. All cold, perishable food should be kept in a cooler at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below and hot food should be above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
When the weather hits 90 degrees or above, mayonnaise-based dishes, such as pasta and potato salads, become a safety concern after just one hour, according to the Food Network. Try a healthier and more safe mayonnaise replacement for your cookout like avocado, hummus or olive oil. Or try something new by making one of these tasty recipes that won’t spoil in the summer sun.
Heat isn’t just unsafe for some food; it can be unsafe for people, too. Dehydration and sunburn are concerns in the summer months, too. Make sure that you’re staying hydrated and avoiding alcohol and other drinks that are high in caffeine or sugar, which can dehydrate you further. The average adult should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day and even more when it’s hot and humid, according to Mayo Clinic. Once you’re properly hydrated, the Center for Disease Control suggests drinking a sports beverage to replace salt and minerals lost through sweat.
While you’re outside celebrating, don’t forget to lather on the sunscreen. Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool down and can lead to heat exhaustion, according to the CDC. Thirty minutes before you head outdoors, apply SPF 15 or higher.
For more heat safety recommendations and guidelines for how to recognize heat-related illnesses, check out these tips from the American Red Cross.
What do you do to ensure safety at your summer celebrations? Share in the comments below.