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Memorial Day Celebrations: Fun and Safety for your Cookout

For many, Memorial Day marks the official start to summer.  A three day weekend with cookouts and parties to mark the occasion.  Whether you're attending a party or hosting your own celebration, keep safety in mind while enjoying the festivities.

Chances are your grill may not have been used since last season.  Before firing it up, clean out any debris that may have accumulated over the winter and clean the cooking grates.  If using a gas grill, refill your tank and inspect all hoses and connections, replacing any that are worn or damaged.


Great care must be taken when using your grill to prevent fire or injury.  U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 8,800 home and outside fires each year. These 8,800 fires cause an annual average of 10 deaths, 140 injuries, and $96 million in direct property damage.  


To reduce the risk of fire, be sure to place your grill in an open area, away from your home, overhead obstructions, and trees or bushes.  Avoid high traffic areas to reduce the risk of someone getting burned.  If you're considering home remodeling or a deck addition, consider creating a dedicated space to place your grill that meets all the safety criteria.


When assembling your food for the party, avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meats away from vegetables and cooked foods.  Any dishes containing mayonnaise or dairy ingredients should be kept in the refrigerator or a cooler until it's time to serve.  Any leftovers should be placed back in the refrigerator within an hour.  Hot foods can be kept warm on the grill or in a chafing dish with a heat source below, such as a Sterno can.


As you load up your grill with hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, and chicken, utilize a food thermometer to ensure the meat is fully cooked.  To accurately read the temperature, be sure the thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the meat.  When removing the meat, don't use the same platter that the raw meat was on or you risk spreading bacteria.


Kick off the summer barbecue season right this Memorial Day weekend.  When you keep the necessary safety precautions in mind, you're bound to have a memorable party with lots of happy guests!