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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The unofficial start to summer kicks off this weekend, meaning many people will light their grills for the first time this year.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that seven out of 10 adults own a grill or smoker.

While that typically translates to a multitude of backyard barbecues, it also means an increased risk for house fires.

Between 2017 and 2021, fire departments across the country responded to more than 11,000 grill fires per year.

The NFPA recommends the following while using a grill:

  • Propane and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors.
  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets at least 3 feet away from the grill.
  • Keep the grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave the grill unattended.
  • Always make sure the gas grill lid is open before lighting it.

It’s also important to ensure food is being cooked properly.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that one in six people suffer from a foodborne illness annually.

The CDC recommends the following while cooking on a grill:

  • Store raw meat, poultry and seafood separated from other foods.
  • Refrigerate raw meat, poultry and seafood until it is ready to grill.
  • Thaw and marinate raw meat, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator. Never leave it out on the counter.
  • Wash hands before and after handling raw meat, poultry and seafood. Make sure the juices do not touch other food, utensils and surfaces.
  • Don’t cross-contaminate raw meat, poultry and seafood with other cooked foods.
  • Use a food thermometer to ensure meat, poultry and seafood is cooked to a safe internal temperature.
  • Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of cooking.

When grilling, cook to:

  • 145°F — whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal (then allow the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating)
  • 145°F — fish (or cook until the flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork)
  • 160°F — hamburgers and other ground beef
  • 165°F — all poultry and pre-cooked meats, like hot dogs

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