Qualilty Improvement for Senior Living Communities
GuideOne Risk Resources for Health Care
1111 Ashworth Road
W. Des Moines, IA 50265-3538



Outdoor Grilling - Fire and Food Safety

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, May 2010 report, grill fires result in an estimated average of 10 deaths, 100 injuries and $37 million in property damage each year, with over half of these fires occurring in the months of May through August.

Grilling outdoors at a senior living community typically involves cooking for the staff, residents and families during the summer months for special occasions, such as holidays. By following the safety tips listed below, you can lessen the chances of injury and property damage:

  • NEVER grill indoors due to the fire hazard and the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • Grills should NEVER be operated on wood decks or closer than 10 feet from any building, eave or overhanging branches. Local city ordinances may have additional requirements, so be sure to check with them prior to setting a facility policy.

  • When igniting charcoal, use the proper starter fluid and NEVER use gasoline or any other flammable liquid to start charcoal. Also, NEVER add additional fluid to an already lit fire.

  • If using a propane grill, check the gas hose for leaks before using. This can be completed with a soap and water solution. Bubbles will appear if gas is leaking from the hose. If a gas leak is detected, shut off the gas at the cylinder and correct the problem before using.

  • NEVER leave a grill unattended when fuel is burning or with the fire going.

  • Keep anyone that is on oxygen away from any open flames.

  • Keep a portable fire extinguisher or charged garden hose close by during the grilling process.

  • Dispose of charcoal coals only after they have cooled, or have been thoroughly saturated with water. Place the coals into a metal container with a tight fitting lid. This should be stored away from anything that could burn.

  • ALWAYS turn the propane cylinder valve to the closed position when done grilling.

  • NEVER store propane cylinders in buildings.

When cooking outdoors, it's also important to follow food safety guidelines to prevent harmful bacteria from multiplying and causing foodborne illness. Use these simple guidelines from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for grilling food safely:

  • Transporting – When carrying food to another location, keep it cold to minimize bacterial growth. Use an insulated cooler with sufficient ice to keep the food at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

  • Keep Cold Food Cold – Keep meat and poultry refrigerated until ready to use. Only take out the meat and poultry that will immediately be placed on the grill. When using a cooler, keep it out of direct sunlight, and avoid opening the lid too often. This lets cold air out and warm air in.

  • Keep Everything Clean – Be sure there are plenty of clean utensils and platters. To prevent foodborne illness, don't use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry. Have a fresh supply of clean water on hand, or have clean cloths and moist towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.

  • Cook Food Thoroughly – Cook food to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often brown very fast on the outside. Use a food thermometer to be sure the food has reached a safe minimum internal temperature, according to the following chart:

Whole poultry 165 degrees Fahrenheit
Poultry breasts 165 degrees Fahrenheit
Ground poultry 165 degrees Fahrenheit
Ground meats 160 degrees Fahrenheit
Beef, pork, lamb and veal
(steaks, roasts, chops)
145 degrees Fahrenheit
(allow to rest at least three minutes)
  • Keep Hot Food Hot – After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served — at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer.

  • Serving Food – When taking food off the grill, use a clean platter. Don't put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry. In hot weather (above 90 degrees Fahrenheit), food should never sit out for more than one hour

  • Leftovers – Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Discard any food left out more than two hours (one hour if temperatures are above 90 degrees Fahrenheit).

By following these fire and food safety grilling tips, you can reduce the risk of an unwanted fire, injury or illness.


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