With cook-out season in full swing, CHOC Children’s safety experts caution parents to be mindful of an unexpected danger lingering long after the hamburgers are eaten and the grill has cooled.
Bristles from metal brushes commonly used to clean grills can fall off onto the grate and later become lodged into food. Ingesting these tiny metal fragments can cause damage to the throat and digestive track, says Amy Frias, a CHOC community educator and Safe Kids Orange County coordinator.
If parents suspect their child has ingested these remnants, they should seek medical attention immediately.
Parents can avoid this risk by relying on alternate methods and tools to clean up after grilling, Amy says. A host of alternative products are available, including grooved wooden planks that scrape off char; brushes that use scouring pads; pumice stone-like cleaning blocks; and nylon-bristle brushes.
A more natural method uses a halved onion, Amy says. Pierce the vegetable with a barbecue fork and rub the onion’s flat end across a very hot grill. This method should easily remove debris and dirt.
Barbecue tools aren’t the only safety risks when it comes to grilling, Amy says. To ensure the entire family stays safe, she offers a few other tips:
- Location: Keep the grill away from high-traffic areas and enclosed spaces, such as eaves, overhead tree branches and deck railings. Never grill indoors or in a tent.
- Perimeter: Create a 3-foot child- and pet-free zone around the grill.
- Heat sources: Keep matches and lighters away from children. Take caution when using lighter fluid, and never add more fluid to a lit fire.
- Thorough cleaning: More than the grill’s grate needs to be cleaned. Periodically remove grease from the trays below the grill to prevent fires.
- Supervision: Never leave cooking food unattended.
- Tools: Use long-handled grilling instruments to keep the chef at an appropriate distance from flames.
- Wardrobe: Close-fitting clothes and pulled-back hair are always fashionable and safe when grilling.
Get more safety and wellness tips and learn about education classes offered by CHOC’s community education department.