How to Make Outdoor Cooking Fun and Safe for the Entire Family

It’s officially grilling season. Let’s get everyone outside!

By: Amanda Mushro


Little boy getting a hotdog at a family barbecue

Photo by: Sally Anscombe

Sally Anscombe

Summer is around the corner, meaning your family can finally enjoy the warm weather. When the afternoon begins to wind down and it’s time for dinner, nobody wants to go indoors. Keep enjoying those precious summer moments with these tips for safely cooking outside.

Keep Kids Three Feet Away from the Grill



Surprised child watching food being turned on a barbecue

Photo by: Elva Etienne

Elva Etienne

Don’t let fun in the sun end with an injury, especially when it comes to the grill. Make it a rule that all kids need to be three feet away from the grill at all times—so that even when the grill is off, little hands aren’t tempted to play with it.

Watch the Temperature Outside and In Your Food



Photo by: Caiaimage/Tom Merton

Caiaimage/Tom Merton

As temperatures rise, we know we should put on sunscreen and drink plenty of water, but keep an eye on the temperature of your food, too. Grab a food thermometer and make sure everything is cooked to the correct degree. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following:

  • 145°F for whole cuts of beef or pork
  • 160°F for ground meats
  • 165°F for all poultry, including ground chicken and turkey
  • 145°F for fish, or cook until the flesh is opaque

Take Care of Your Grill Before You Start Cooking



Close up of a senior man cleaning barbecue during a picnic day.



Before you break out the hamburgers and hot dogs, make sure your grill is summer-ready. Start by positioning the grill away from items like siding and the porch or deck railings. Experts agree that grills should remain 10 feet away from your home and any foot traffic. Don't forget to clean your grill's surface and clear out the grease tray.

Pro-tip: Keeping a spray bottle of water next to the grill is great for putting out flames that get too big!

Cool Down the Right Way



Photo by: Caiaimage/Sam Edwards

Caiaimage/Sam Edwards

When your family gets hot, popsicles are the perfect treat to cool down, but don’t forget that your grill needs to cool down, too. If you have a gas grill, be sure to turn the gas off completely, clean the grill and double-check for buildup that could cause a fire the next time you turn on the grill. If you are using charcoal, allow the coals to burn out before storing them in a metal container. To avoid possible fires, never put the ashes into a paper bag or garbage can.

Leftovers: When to Keep and When to Toss



Food vendor during the Jazz de Bon Odori event in Noge on September 22, 2018.

Photo by: DigiPub


When it comes to leftovers, the CDC suggests putting food into the fridge right after eating and tossing anything that has been sitting out for over an hour.


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