Grilling Safety In The Winter

Grilling Safety Is Never Out of Season

Most of us grill on muscle memory. We've done it for so long it’s like cooking on cruise control. Grilling in the winter, however, presents some unique challenges, and some risks. Here are a few tips to ensure your safety while grilling no matter what old man winter throws your way.

Weber Grill in Winter

(1) Location

Consider repositioning the grill for easier access (code for shortening your walk), but keep it outside (no garages) and a safe distance from the house and deck railing. Be careful of overhangs as the heat from the grills could potentially melt snow and ice above causing it to fall and cause injury. 

(2) Fuel

Fuel use will be different in the winter than in other seasons. You’ll likely burn more fuel to keep the grill at the desired temperature, so be sure the tank is full at the start of the season. If have a reserve tank, fill that as well and have it on-hand stored in a cool dry location in case the primary tank becomes empty.

(3) Storage

Keep your grill covered between use to prevent snow and ice from building up and freezing around burner dials and ignition switches. If you don’t have a cover, give yourself sufficient time to brush off and remove any snow or ice from the grill and side shelves. Keep grilling accessories like the spatula, tong and grill scraper under the grill for easy access before and after use.

(4) Access

Snow shovels are essential tools for winter grilling. After each snowfall, shovel and keep a clear path to and around the grill to help reduce the chance of slips or falls.

(5) Preparation

Remember that it gets dark early in the winter. Plan your meals accordingly. If you have to cook after sundown then be sure you have a flashlight on hand with fully charged batteries. Also, give yourself some extra time than normal to start and warm up the grill. It’ll take a little longer, maybe 7-12 minutes to get it to the proper temperature. Clean the grill grates prior to cooking the meal rather than after to avoid having your cooked food get cold.

(6) Clothing

Winter grilling requires some extra clothing so take a moment to be sure all outwear, especially scarfs, is zipped up and tucked in properly to prevent contact with greasy grill grates or flames. Heat-resistant grilling gloves should provide sufficient protection from the elements while providing all-important protection from heat and flame-ups.

(7) Temperature Control

Try to resist the urge to lift the grill lid while cooking. Every time you open the grill heat escapes and the temperature drops, resulting in longer cooking times. Also, If you have ceramic cookware, winter is the perfect time of year to use it. It has insulating qualities that will keep your grilled food warm as it’s being brought indoors after cooking.

(8) Operations 

Grilling is not inherently dangerous, but anytime you work with fire and winter winds there are risks. You may recall hearing about the grilling accident that injured ESPN SportsCenter anchor Hannah Storm back in December 2012. The instructions below are a Must-Read refresher for anyone grilling on muscle memory.

Firing-Up the Grill

  1. Open the lid
  2. Turn on propane
  3. Turn our burners
  4. Push ignition

Shutting Off the Grill

  1. Open the lid
  2. Turn off propane
  3. Turn off burners

Restarting the Grill

  1. Open the lid
  2. Turn off propane
  3. Turn off burners
  4. Allow gas to dissipate for 5 full minutes before attempting to start it again.

Don't let a little cold weather (or a lot of snow) keep you from the foods that feed your passion for grilling.

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