You may have heard about the Houston house fire of Space Shuttle Challenger astronaut Ronald McNair's widow on the news or Inside Edition. Her name is Cheryl McNair, and she was kind enough to share her story with us. She was so impressed with the rapid response of our ServiceMaster staff.
One of the best things about summer is cooking outdoors. If you have your own equipment, you never have to worry about what to make for dinner – when in doubt, just fire up the grill! Even a humble hot dog tastes better cooked on an open flame. Add a few people and some music and you have an easy summer party. Grillers will debate gas versus charcoal until the end of time, but if you follow a few grilling safety tips, you’ll be able to enjoy eating outside all summer.
- Situate your grill away from any structures or overhangs. Keep it away from your home, garage, or shed and be sure it’s not too close to any trees or patio furniture.
- Don’t use the grill in a tent or a carport. Most people realize that tent flaps can catch on fire from flareups, but the sides of a tent or carport increase the chances of carbon monoxide poisoning. Always use grills in well-ventilated areas.
- If your grill doesn’t have an ignition feature, use long handled lighters or matches that are specially made to light grills. Using a regular sized lighter means your hand is closer to the flames when they ignite and you can easily be burned if there’s a gust of wind.
- If you use charcoal, only use lighter fluid specially designed for charcoal, and only on cold briquettes. Never add more to hot coals, and never use gasoline!
- If you use a gas grill, open the lid before lighting the grill to allow any accumulated gasses to escape.
- Never leave a burning grill alone. Grease and wind can cause flareups, and food can break and drop onto the grill, causing a bigger than expected fire.
- Clean and maintain your grill on a regular basis. Remove greasy buildup to reduce the risk of an out-of-control fire and examine hoses, cooking surfaces, and other areas for signs of damage.
- Turn off a gas grill at the controls first, then at the gas tank. This ensures that any excess gas can safely escape.
- Leave charcoal ashes in place until they are completely cool; even when slightly cool, they can flare up and start a fire. Never throw them away in a trash can or leave them on a wooden surface such as a deck or patio. The best way to dispose of ashes is to dump them on soil or place them in a sturdy metal container.
Foodborne Illness Safety
Grilling safety isn’t the only thing to worry about at a cookout. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that over 125,000 Americans are hospitalized every year for a variety of foodborne illnesses. Following a few common-sense barbecue safety tips will help prevent a host of health issues.
- Use separate cutting boards for preparing produce and raw meat, and don’t reuse knives without thoroughly washing them to avoid cross-contamination. Use one platter to transport raw meat to the grill and a clean one to deliver cooked items to the table.
- Wash all produce before cutting or serving, even if you plan to peel it. Pesticides and other residue on the peel can be transferred onto the knife during the peeling process.
- Be sure all meat is cooked to recommended internal temperatures; the best way to check is with a meat thermometer and not by looking at pinkness. Burgers and sausages should be cooked to 160 degrees; chicken and turkey should be 165 degrees; and steaks should be cooked to 145 degrees after a 3-minute resting period.
- Have separate serving dishes for each kind of food; while fancy displays of brats and salads may look great on Pinterest, they’re not food safety goals. Meats should be on one platter, potato salad in one dish, and so on to avoid contamination. Label any dishes that contain common allergens like nuts.
- Food should not be kept at room temperature for longer than 2 hours; if outdoor temperatures are higher than 90 degrees, it’s 1 hour. Perishable items should be kept in coolers with plenty of ice packs. Some outdoor serving dishes come with removable inserts that can be frozen ahead of time to keep items cold longer.
Fire Damage? What To Do?
No matter the cause, a fire will ruin a good time. If you need fire damage restoration at your home or business in Houston, TX, call the experts at ServiceMaster Restoration and Cleaning right away. We’re on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to provide emergency board-up and site security services. We also dry out areas that become water logged during the firefighting process before they can grow mold or sustain damage. Our highly trained professionals will work with you to develop a comprehensive fire damage remediation plan so you can get your life back on track.