Summer means more cookouts— and more grill-related injuries. Burns caused by fire and contact with hot surfaces are the most common grilling injuries. Children younger than 5 years, who may bump into, accidentally touch or fall onto the grill, account for about half of those burns.
Keeping your children safe when you are grilling includes preparation, modeling safety and enforcing rules.
How To Prepare For Grilling
The first step in keeping your family safe when grilling is to prepare. You can get ready for summer barbecues by setting up your grilling space with these tips:
- Use propane and charcoal grills outside. If barbecues are used inside, or in any enclosed spaces, they become a fire hazard and also may expose you and your family to carbon monoxide.
- Position the grill away from your house and deck railings, out from under eaves and overhanging branches, and a safe distance from play areas and foot traffic.
- Regularly remove grease or fat buildup in trays below your grill so it cannot be ignited when the grill is in use.
- Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of any fires.
Keeping Kids Safe
When barbecuing for family and friends, you could easily become distracted. By setting some rules for everyone ahead of time, you can help prevent injuries to your children. Tips include:
- Keep children and pets away from the grill area by declaring a 3-foot "kid-free zone" around the grill.
- Keep all matches and lighters away from children.
- Always supervise children around outdoor grills.
- Don’t place items that easily catch fire (napkins, paper plates, matches) near grills.
- Keep all hot foods and liquids away from table and counter edges and out of the reach of children.
- Never carry children and hot foods or liquids at the same time.
Keeping Yourself Safe
For your own safety, stay vigilant while grilling. Remember to follow these suggestions to lower the chance of accidents:
- Wear a heavy apron and mitt.
- Use tools designed for grilling to keep your hands and arms safe.
- Do not wear loose clothing while cooking at a grill.
- Do not drink alcohol and grill. You do not want to be impaired while grilling.
- Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.
- Do not add lighter fluid to an already lit fire because the flames can flashback up into the container and explode.
What To Do If Your Child Is Injured
If your child is injured while you are grilling, immediate assistance is critical. Help your child stop, drop and roll if clothing is on fire.
For burns, place the affected area in cool or lukewarm water for three to five minutes and then cover with a clean, dry cloth. If there is open skin, apply antibiotic ointment and cover with a bandage. If the burn is larger than your palm, your child needs to see a doctor.
You should also head to the ER if your child is experiencing symptoms of smoke inhalation, such as coughing or difficulty breathing.
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