PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Memorial Day is often marked as the unofficial start of summer for many and with that unofficial start comes the first time millions fire up the grill for the first time.
Before you throw the dogs, burgers, and other delicious delicacies on the grates of your grill, there are several precautions you need to take to make sure your friends and family from getting sick.
First and foremost, something we've put a heavy emphasis on the past few years, wash your hands.
This should happen before and after you prepare the food.
Also, make sure you thoroughly wash your cutting boards and/or surfaces that come into contact with raw meats.
As for those meats, make sure you keep them cold until they're ready to cook. Once they hit the grates of the grill, make sure you have a food thermometer to ensure those meats are cooked to a safe internal temperature.
There's also the risk of overcooking - charring meats too much can produce cancer-causing chemicals.
Once you're done with your Memorial Day feast, make sure to get everything back in the fridge quickly. It's important to make sure that you don't let cooked food sit out for more than an hour on a hot day and no more than two hours at room temperature.
Now that you know how to keep the food safe, let's make sure you also avoid injury.
First and foremost, take a good look at your grill and make sure everything is in place, and nothing is broken or loose, that way you can avoid any injuries.
If you're using a gas grill, be sure to check for any leaks.
Always have a fire extinguisher nearby - especially if using lighter fluid, make sure to move farther away when lighting and when the grill is lit.
"When you're going to light your grill for the first time, whether it's propane or even charcoal with lighter fluid, obviously you want to be careful," cautions Dr. Tom Waters of the Cleveland Clinic. "If you aren't able to light a gas grill after the first two attempts, you need to turn it off, let it air out, and then inspect why it might not be working before you continue to try and light it to avoid any flare-ups or big explosions of gas."
Now, if you do suffer minor burns while grilling, those can be treated at home with cooling or antibiotic ointments.
If the burn is larger than the palm of your hand - seek medical attention.
You can get a full list of safety precautions, tips, and more on the Cleveland Clinic website at this link.
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