Safety tips: Avoid burns, scalding when grilling

Grilling can provide some tasty dishes, but it also can cause unexpected burns, scalding, and fires. To help avoid unintended consequences, UT Southwestern Medical Center physicians urge caution for those who are grilling as well as socializing.

“When you’re smelling the barbecue, it’s easy to forget that grills – both gas and charcoal – are an open source of flame and a potential danger,” says burn surgeon Dr. Brett Arnoldo, Professor of Surgery at UT Southwestern.

Some common precautions to prevent burns include:

  • Don’t pour water directly on coals. Beware of steam that can rise up unexpectedly and scald.
  • Use baking powder to help contain grease fires.
  • Always have an extinguisher nearby in case flames get out of control or something else nearby catches fire.
  • Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and pets and away from any source of heat, including grills and fire pits. Never use gasoline as a source of ignition.
  • Never leave a lit grill unattended and designate an area around the grill for children to avoid. Children and pets should remain at least 3 feet from a grill to help avoid burns or accidentally knocking over the grill.
  • Don’t lean directly over the grill. Be aware of clothing such as scarves, shirt tails, or apron strings that can catch fire when bending over. Consider flame-retardant oven mitts and long utensils to avoid burns.
  • Never try to move a hot grill. Be sure to wait for coals to cool off before disposing.

Also remember to avoid toxic fumes from charcoal. Burning charcoal produces carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas. Never burn charcoal indoors or in garages, tents, RVs, campers, or other enclosed spaces.

Learn about UTSW Burn Care

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