What many typically think of as “grilling season” has officially come to an end — but did you know you can cook outside all year long when you take some precautions and properly prepare your space? Consider these tips if year-round barbecuing is in the forecast for your family:
- Give your grill a good cleaning. If you’re planning on using your barbecue in the winter, you’ll want to make sure it’s in tip-top shape after a long summer of grilling. Following the instructions in the owner’s manual, clean each part of your barbecue to get rid of food remnants, bacteria, and built-up carbon deposits that could cause your grill to heat unevenly, not reach its full operating temperature, or even stop working altogether.
- Keep your grill or barbecue outdoors, in a safe and well-ventilated area. You might be thinking about moving your grill or barbecue into a more sheltered space that’s less exposed to the elements — but keep in mind that barbecues and other fuel- or charcoal-run grills are fire hazards and release potentially harmful carbon monoxide. They’re designed to be used outdoors, in well-ventilated areas, away from flammable structures or furniture. They should not be used inside sheds, garages, or other enclosed areas.
- Keep your outdoor cooking station well-lit and clear the area of snow and ice. Good outdoor lighting is key in the winter months when you might find yourself grilling up dinner after the sun goes down. In addition to keeping your outdoor kitchen well-lit, you should also keep it clear of snow and ice so you don’t slip when you’re cooking or carrying your dinner from your barbecue to the back door.
- Plan out your winter grilling wardrobe. When you’re running back and forth to the grill in colder weather, it can be tempting to throw on the closest thing to the door, even if it’s not yours and it doesn’t fit. But being mindful of what you’re wearing while you’re grilling can help you avoid slips and other mishaps. If the patio or deck where you’re going to be cooking is wet or might be slippery, put on non-slip footwear to avoid taking a fall (and taking your dinner down with you). If you’re wearing a scarf, tuck it into your jacket so it doesn’t accidentally hang over the grill and catch fire. You can also get special flame-retardant gloves to keep your hands warm and safe.
- Safely store extra fuel. You should always have extra fuel on hand, especially in the winter, when you’ll likely be running your grill for longer periods than you would in the summer. Extra charcoal should be stored in a dry place that’s protected from snow or rain, and an extra propane tank should be stored in a dry, well-ventilated area outdoors, at least three meters from your barbecue, heat sources, and other flammable objects.
When the temperature dips below freezing, it can be easy to rush or cut corners when it comes to doing anything outdoors. But no matter when you’re grilling — and no matter how cold you might be — you should always keep these general barbecue safety tips in mind, too.
Accidents can happen, even when you’ve taken all the right precautions. Connect with your licensed home insurance broker to make sure you have the coverage you’ll need in the event of a grill-related mishap this winter.
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