There is nothing nicer (or tastier) than food cooked over an open flame. Throw in some nice weather, invite some friends, and you’ll have an evening to remember. But, will it be for the right reasons? The National Fire Protection Association estimates that just shy of 20,000 people are badly burned through grill injuries each year.
Also, with wildfire season boundaries becoming increasingly blurry, it really pays to take some sensible precautions. Today we will talk about the do’s and don’ts of open fire cooking and offer some great guidance for an enjoyable and safe experience.
Open Fire Do’s and Don’ts
Do Check Regulations
When having an open fire, planning is important. Before you do anything, you must check that open fires are permitted. If you are in a public space, there may be limits on when you can have a fire. Even if you are on your own property, there are times when it is prohibited to burn, so check beforehand.
DON’T Have Open Fires During Wildfire Season
Wildfires can be caused by many obscure things. A stray spark from an open fire could be all it takes to start a very large fire. And we aren’t talking about a small blaze. We are talking national news headlines.
The majority of wildfires were started by accident. It is far better to save your open fire cooking for another day than risk your party being remembered for all the wrong reasons.
Do Keep a Clear Area
When making an open fire, you really have to consider the area around you. It is also important to note that it isn’t just the area on the ground that needs to be kept clear either.
Heat rises, so it is well worth looking up to see whether there is anything above your proposed fire, such as branches or even the eaves of your property, before lighting. Also, take a good look at the area around where you intend to have the fire. Are there any other hazards nearby that could be ignited accidentally?
Avoid Liquid-Based Fire Lighters
Often it can be a challenge to get an open fire lit. Many are tempted to saturate their fuel with an artificial fire accelerant.
This is a bad idea.
The fumes from pooled firelighters can be substantial and cause a ‘blow up’. Besides this, wood soaked in a flammable liquid will impart that flavor onto your food!
While it may be sunny, there is one factor that can spread fire frighteningly fast.
We are talking about the wind.
Windy days and open fires don’t mix. Lit embers are exceptionally light and can be spread a considerable distance by strong winds. They also get aloft quickly as they are heated, making the perfect storm for a fire to spread if there is dry fuel nearby.
Don’t Cook Fatty Foods
Foods that have a high-fat content will tend to drip as they start to cook. While this gives a great BBQ taste, fat is very flammable. Those drips could soon add up and cause a big blaze if you are cooking for a crowd.
Stick to low-fat foods.
Pick a Sensible Container
While they are often called firepits, a hole in the ground probably isn’t safe. You will probably want a safe means to contain your fire. Be sure to use a sturdy container made of non-flammable material.
Also, once the fire is out, be careful with your hands. Thick metal can stay hot for a long time, even after the fire is extinguished.
Don’t Cook Over an Open Flame
While it might look good on the burger king ads, you want to avoid cooking over open flames. By doing so, you will burn the outside of your food while the inside remains uncooked as it will struggle to catch up.
Choose a Suitable and Safe Fuel
There might be a temptation to add anything and everything to your fire. Not only could this be dangerous, but it might impart an unwanted flavor to your food. Burning plastic hotdogs? No thanks!
Supervise the Fire at ALL Times
Make a simple rule.
When the fire is lit, there must be somebody watching it. Fire can spread in seconds, so it is best to have someone on hand to ensure it behaves.
Have the Means to Extinguish the Fire Close to Hand
Suppose a fire begins to get out of control. In that case, the easiest way to ensure a safe outcome is to extinguish it immediately. It is far better to have soggy burgers and call for takeout than face an uncontrolled blaze.
A bucket of water or sand is the best low-cost solution. Alternatively, you could invest in a good portable fire extinguisher.
Don’t Leave Your Fire Burning
At the end of the day, there may be a temptation to leave the fire to expire on its own. Large fires can burn discretely for over 24 hours. Instead, give your fire a good dousing with copious amounts of water once the fun is over and check that it is out before retiring for the evening.
Don’t Over Stack Your Fire
When fires first start off, it is easy to assume that there isn’t enough heat because they aren’t roaring. The temptation is to add more fuel to the fire. Give your fire a chance to get going before making the decision to add more fuel.
Often an open fire will ‘catch up’ and begin to burn fiercely without any ‘help’. If more fuel has already been added, you had effectively lost control of it before it began.
Open Fire Cooking Safety
Whether you are planning an open fire or looking for advice about fires in general, Fraker Fire, based in California, is an expert in fire protection. We can provide advisory services and offer practical information on the best fire extinguishers for open outdoor fires.
Why not contact Fraker Fire today and see what services we can provide for your home or business?