Now that summer is here, barbecue season is at full throttle.
But did you know that there are some things that you should absolutely never do at a barbecue?
Standing over a hot charcoal or propane grill, cooking up some burgers and hot dogs with your family and friends sounds like a pleasant activity, but it can go very wrong if you don’t know what you’re doing.
For starters, you need to know how to safely ignite your grill. Many sets of eyebrows have been sizzled off by an unexpected ball of fire bursting from a propane grill. Make sure you read your directions first!
Other than literally playing with fire, make sure you don’t ever do any of the following 11 things at a barbecue.
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1. Mix Raw And Cooked Meats
It’s so important to keep uncooked meat completely separate from the finished product. Make sure that you use a fresh, clean platter for your cooked food so you don’t contaminate it with E. coli. The USDA urges folks to cook hamburger meat to 160°F to ensure that all bacteria is killed.
2. Inhale The Smoke
The National Cancer Institute says that the delicious-smelling smoke can cause you harm, too. When you breathe in the smoke, you’re coating your lungs with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. PAHs have been shown to cause cancer as well.
3. Char The Meat Too Much
Also according to the National Cancer Institute, getting that yummy char on your burger is not always a good idea. Excess carcinogens that come from the crispy char have been found to cause cancer in lab tests. Everything in moderation!
4. Have Too Many Beers Before Firing Up The Grill
It’s no mystery that alcohol can impair your motor skills and judgement, but there is never any harm in the extra reminder that consuming alcohol before literally playing with fire is not a good idea. Know your limits and make sure that you stay within those parameters.
5. Forget The Marinades And Rubs
One way to reduce the amount of dangerous carcinogens in your barbecued meat is to make sure you prepare it with an herb rub or a marinade. Dr. Oz notes that doing this can reduce the harmful effects of grilling meat by up to 96%.
6. Neglect Your Neighborly Duties
If you live in close proximity to your neighbors, it would be the most polite to give them a heads-up about your party. You might even go so far as to invite them! You should try not to be grilling too close to any neighbor’s home so that the smoke doesn’t drift through any open windows or the like.
7. Forget To Plan For Bad Weather
The Vane reports that in 2013, weather forecasts were correct about next day precipitation forecasts 82.1% of the time. While this is a high number, there is still room for error. If you’re having a ton of people over, you’re not going to want to have to shuffle them all into your home with dirty, muddy shoes. Make sure you have a plan B for rainy weather, like a gazebo or an easy-up awning.
8. Allow Guests To Drink And Drive
It’s never fun to play the role of the rule-maker, but when it’s for the safety of your guests and everyone else out on the road, you’ve got to put your foot down when it comes to drinking and driving. If everyone’s getting a little rowdy, you’re going to have to offer your home for as long as it takes for people to be well enough to drive.
According to the Center for Disease Control, one person dies every 53 minutes in America in a drunk driving-related incident.
9. Forget About The Vegetarians
If you mix up the veggie options with your beef burgers and kosher dogs, you’re going to have some very unhappy campers. Make sure that you cook your tofu dogs and portabella skewers separately — not with the meat — and that you don’t pile them up on the same plate.
10. Leave The Racks And Grates A Mess
The Spruce says that you need to clean off your grill racks and grates when they are cooled off a bit, but still warm. Use a stiff grill brush to scrub everything clean after each use.
11. Use An Old Grill Brush
As soon as you notice loose bristles on your steel grill brush, throw it away immediately. The bristles have been known to come loose and end up in food. One Toronto boy had to go into emergency surgery after swallowing one that found its way into his burger.
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