NJ Officials Offer Safe Grilling Tips

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TRENTON — Noting that the Fourth of July holiday traditionally features outdoor barbecuing activities, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), which oversees the Division of Fire Safety, and the Department of Health are providing a series of grilling safety and food handling tips to help keep this year’s Fourth of July celebrations safe from injury and illness.

“The Fourth of July holiday weekend is a great opportunity to relax, spend time with friends and family and enjoy all that a summer in New Jersey has to offer,” said DCA Commissioner Richard E. Constable, III. “As we celebrate, I encourage residents to take all necessary precautions when using gas fired grills as the summer season begins. Unfortunately, there have been a number of instances where propane tanks being transported in cars have leaked volatile propane fumes, leading to fires and explosions.”

The National Fire Protection Association’s data through 2010 reveals that fire departments nationwide, including those in New Jersey, responded to an average of 8,600 home fires involving gas-fired or charcoal grills. Those fires resulted in an annual average of 10 fatalities, 140 injuries, and nearly $75 million in property damage. Nearly 83 percent of those fires involved gas fired grills and nearly 40 percent cited a courtyard, terrace, or patio as the “areas of origin.” Another 28 percent began on a front porch or balcony.

Along with following safety instructions for grills, it’s important to prepare, handle and cook food properly to avoid illness.

“An estimated 76 million Americans get sick each year from foodborne illness caused when food is not prepared or cooked properly,” New Jersey Health Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd said. “There are simple steps people can take, such as using a food thermometer to confirm that meat is cooked to a safe temperature.”
TIPS FOR SAFE SUMMER COOKOUTS

 

FOOD HANDLING:

  • Thoroughly clean all cutting boards and surfaces that come in contact with raw food.
  • When preparing foods, use two cutting boards – one for raw meat, chicken and fish, and one for vegetables or other foods that will not be cooked.
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds in warm soapy water before and after preparing foods.
  • Check to ensure food is thoroughly cooked by inserting a food thermometer at an angle into the thickest part of the meat, chicken or fish to check the internal temperature. Cook hamburgers to at least 155°F, chicken and stuffed meats to at least 165°F, and steaks, pork, fish and whole beef or pork roasts to at least 145°F.
  • Keep cold foods in the refrigerator until serving time.
  • Keep hot food hot by using tabletop equipment such as chafing dishes and sternos.
  • Refrigerate leftovers immediately. Discard food that has been left out for four or more hours.

GAS GRILLS

  • When lighting the grill for the first time, or anytime, make certain the lid is open or in an up position.
  • To maintain your gas grill, keep it covered when not in use. Replace worn or defective parts.
  • Check the gas valve to grill connections. Use soapy water only to check for leaks.
  • Always make certain the supply knobs and the propane tank itself are completely turned off
  • Never use any accelerant (lighter fluid, or charcoal lighting fluid) to light a gas grill.
  • Keep children away from the grill at all times.
  • Keep the grill away from any structure on your property, especially your home.
  • DO NOT grill in or under any structure.

CHARCOAL GRILLS

  • Never use anything other than charcoal briquettes, (wood, cardboard, etc.) in a charcoal grill.
  • Use only approved charcoal grill fluid to ignite the charcoal.
  • Keep children away at all times.
  • Keep the grill away from any structure on your property, especially your home.
  • DO NOT grill in or under any structure.

More information on DCA’s Division of Fire Safety and their various public education campaigns, visit http://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dfs/


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