Fletcher Allen, a Vermont university hospital and medical center, serves all of
Vermont and the northern New York region. Located in Burlington, Fletcher Allen is a regional, academic healthcare center and teaching hospital in alliance with the University of Vermont.
Safe Barbecues: A Hot Topic for Summer
With summer here, I find myself getting grilled by families about barbecue safety. Well, I don’t want any backyard fireworks to occur, so let me provide some information on this topic.
First, keep your children away from grills and any grill accessories before, during and after you cook. For example, lighter fluid bottles can look like something your child may want to drink from, which could cause a serious and life threatening poisoning. If you think your child may have ingested lighter fluid, please call the New England Regional Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.
Always follow the directions from the manufacturer on how to use your barbecue or grill equipment. Before cooking, make sure your grill is in good working order. Test it outdoors, not indoors or in a garage. And never leave a grill area unattended when it is in use.
Don’t forget to wash your hands before you handle food products. And never put cooked food on a dish that was holding raw meat, poultry or fish.
Remember that bacteria multiply when food is between 40 and 140 degrees, so keep cold food cold and hot food hot until everything is ready to be eaten. Don’t leave food outside for more than two hours to prevent food poisoning. If you’re not sure how long food has been sitting on the picnic table, remember my motto: When in doubt, throw it out.
When you’ve finished cooking at the beach, don’t bury hot coals in the sand. They can remain hot for up to 24 hours, and a child or adult who runs over that spot can sustain serious burns.
Finally, clean up right after the barbecue and not the next day. If you wait to clean up, kids can get burned from a barbecue that is still cooling down, find alcoholic beverages that have been left out, or eat leftover small snack foods that may choke them.
Hopefully tips like these, and I’m not talking about steak tips, will keep you from simmering at the possibility of a summer backyard injury at your next barbecue.
Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. You can also catch "First with Kids" weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and WPTZ Channel 5, or visit the First with Kids video archives at www.FletcherAllen.org/firstwithkids.