Grilling Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe
Grilling is at the heart of summertime more than almost anything else. From the smell of charcoal to the taste of a juicy burger, grilling is perfect for small and large gatherings alike. When you have a big family, though, it’s important to make sure that everyone knows how to stay safe around a hot grill.
Never Leave the Grill Unattended
This may seem a bit obvious, but its importance can’t be understated. If you have young children who may not remember to stay away from the grill, it’s important to have an adult standing by at all times. This is particularly important when you have food on the grill, even though it can be tempting to run inside for that sauce you need rather than asking for help.
There are a number of reasons why the grill shouldn't be left unattended, the most obvious of which is that there is an open flame that kids can stick their hands into. Kids can also knock the grill over, opening up the risk of a fire spreading through the yard or porch. Even if kids don’t get their hands in or around the fire, the body of the grill can also heat up and pose a threat.
Make sure that there is an adult who can watch the grill while the chef goes inside or distributes food. This way there will always be a set of eyes on the grill, even when the chef is busy doing other tasks.
Don't Leave the Grill Open
It's important to check food frequently to make sure that everything is cooking properly. A large capacity grill can hold a lot of food, meaning that there’s sometimes a lot of tasty treats to keep your eye on. Still, try not to leave the hood open all the time if you're busy with other tasks. Hungry young kids may think they can sneak a hot dog or burger off the grill before mealtime, which opens up the risk of getting burned.
This temptation can be removed by keeping the hood of the grill closed whenever possible. Without the enticing smell of food, kids are less likely to try and sneak a few bites without you noticing.
Keep an Eye on the Fuel
Whether you have a gas or propane grill, this fuel can create a serious hazard for young children. If a child tries to mimic lighting the grill with gas, they can cause the flame to flare up, and they may become burned or start a fire. In the case of a propane grill, children can play with the hose that hooks up to the tank, potentially causing an explosion from the pressure. In the case of liquid fuel, you need to protect from tampering the same way you keep cleaning supplies like bleach out of little hands.
Whatever the case, it’s essential to ensure that children cannot access the fuel for the grill whether it’s in use or not. The best way to do this is by keeping charcoal, liquid fuel, and propane tanks out of reach to children who could play with them.
Prevent Access to Dangerous Grilling Utensils
While not a part of the grill itself, the utensils used for cooking can pose a danger to young children. Grilling typically involves using knives to cut meat and other items, which children may try to play with when you aren’t looking. Spatulas, tongs, and other utensils can get hot if left by the grill and can cause burns if grabbed by small kids. Additionally, these items may be contaminated with germs from raw meat, which can make kids sick.
Remind children that cooking utensils are for adults only. It can be a good idea to give kids age-appropriate utensils to play with, so they are too distracted to touch what’s being used for grilling. This will allow them to play pretend as Mommy or Daddy, who is at the grill cooking.
Keep The Kids Occupied
One of the easiest ways to keep your children safe around the grill is to make sure they're occupied somewhere else. It's best to keep them within visual distance so that you know exactly where they are while you’re cooking.
Having a designated “kid zone” is a great way to make sure that your children stay away from the hot grill. It’s best to separate the grill from the “kid zone” as much as possible so that there's no possibility that they could run close to the grill while playing. A sandbox or kiddie pool are great ways to clearly define that space.
Practice Fire Safety
If your child is old enough to be in preschool, they’ve probably had a visit from the fire department to teach them fire safety. This is where kids learn the “stop, drop, and roll” technique in the event they catch on fire. Take the time to remind your child of these rules, or teach them if they don't already know.
You may also want to teach your children where the fire extinguisher is, in the event that there is a grill fire. Consider making your child the designated “fire marshall” of the cookout, who can tell people about fire safety. This will express the importance of fire safety and will give the child a task that keeps them away from the grill.
Watch Pets Closely
Anyone with children knows that they love to follow the family pets around. If you have a cat or dog, they likely enjoy being near the grill in the hope of getting a free snack. Having pets around the grill can attract children who want to give them some attention.
The best way to handle this is by keeping pets inside or otherwise away from the grill while it's being used. This will eliminate the possibility that your child will run up to the grill to pet the dog, potentially getting hurt in the process.
Stay Safe and Enjoy Your Cookouts
Cookouts provide delicious meals and can create wonderful memories for the whole family. One of the best ways to ensure that cookouts don't go badly is to keep young children safe around the grill. This can be a bit of a tedious task on top of cooking, but these tips can help to make it easier. By using these methods for keeping kids safe, you're almost guaranteed to have fun, safe cookouts from now on.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.