Tip of the Day: Be safe when grilling

    Consumer Reports News: August 22, 2009 12:09 AM

    Your grill might have served you well so far this summer, but a little bit of servicing now will ensure safe and effective cooking and protect its looks far into the fall and beyond. Here's how:

    If your grill has become hard to light or the flame isn't as strong as it could be, check for blockages in the tubes that lead to the burner. Clear obstructions by using a wire or pipe cleaner and pushing debris through to the main part of the burner. Spiders love to build webs and nests in these areas; be sure to check for these, especially if you've just returned from vacation. You'll also want to inspect the hoses for cracks, holes, and sharp bends and replace it if necessary. Then do the following:

    • Check the grills for gas leaks by mixing a small amount of dishwashing liquid and water in a spray bottle. Spray the hose and connections, and with the hose connected to the propane tank, open the gas. If bubbles appear, you need to replace your hose or fix a loose connection.

    • Have your grill serviced if the burner flames are not blue. A yellow flame indicates clogged air inlets or that burners must be adjusted. 

    • Clean the drip pan and remove the grates and burners and clean the firebox; grease and food often collect there.

    • Clean both sides of the grates before cooking and after, too. Use a stiff wire brush, or a nylon brush for porcelain-coated, cast-iron grates. (Hint: To keep food from sticking on grates and making them harder to clean, fold two paper towels into a pad and dip in a little bowl of neutral-flavored vegetable oil, like canola oil. After you've preheated the grill and right before you cook, draw the pad across grates using a pair of tongs.)

    • Examine the propane tank. Heavy rust, dents, or greenish-orange corrosion means you need a new tank.

    If a fire does break out and you can safely turn off the gas, shut it down, the National Fire Protection Association advises. If flames are contained in a grill, close the lid to smother the flames. Douse small flare-ups with a spray of water, a bucket of sand, or the hose or fire extinguisher. If a fire breaks out and moves beyond your grill, call your fire department immediately and keep away from the grill.—Kimberly Janeway | | Twitter | Forums | Facebook

    Essential information:
    Find out how to avoid the five most common grilling mistakes and watch the video above for more grilling advice.

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