101 Critical Days of Summer: Barbecuing safety

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- During these Critical Days of Summer, many of us love to fancy ourselves as the ultimate cook. We break out the barbecue grills and other associated utensils and proceed to grill mouth-watering meals. Before we delve into the grilling project, there are a few things we should familiarize ourselves with:

Step 1: Identify the hazards: Let's look at the hazards associated with barbecuing:
· Location
· Utensils/grill
· Experience
· Foreign object(s) on cooking surface
· Fire
· Carbon monoxide

Step 2: Assess the risk: Then assess the impact of each hazard in terms of potential loss and severity:
· Possible fire if too close to structure, grill could tip over if not on level ground, kids could run into grill if not positioned out of the path of travel
· Burns to hands if not using proper utensils
· Injury if not familiar with grill operation
· Food contamination if foreign object is on cooking surface
· Out-of-control fire, serious burns or death if charcoal fluid is poured on hot coals or if gasoline is used
· Serious injury or death could result if burning charcoal in a non-ventilated area

Step 3: Analyze risk control measures: Once you have identified the hazards and assessed the associated risk, you should decide on some controls that can be employed to reduce or mitigate the hazards:
· Keep grill at least 25 feet away from flammable items
· Only use utensils designed for BBQing
· Be thorough with grill operation
· Ensure cooking surface is free of foreign objects
· Do not ever put charcoal fluid on hot coals or use gasoline
· Keep sufficient amount of water or a fire extinguisher close by
· Only BBQ in well ventilated areas

Step 4: Make control decisions: Accept the risk, avoid the risk, reduce the risk, or spread the risk. Do not make dumb decisions.

Step 5: Risk control implementation: Once you select appropriate controls, use them! A plan is only good if it is followed.

Step 6: Supervise and review: As always, the situation is subject to change quickly. Monitor the situation and adjust as necessary to keep things under control. Barbecuing is a great way to enjoy summer fun and we all deserve a break every now and then. Use risk management to make barbecuing fun, memorable, and safe.