PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
July 2, 2013

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.

For Further Information Contact:
Donna Leusner, New Jersey Department of Health, (609) 984-7160
Tammori Petty, New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, (609) 292-6055


TRENTON, NJ - Noting that the Fourth of July holiday traditionally features outdoor barbecuing activities, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), which oversees the Division of Fire Safety, and the Department of Health are providing a series of grilling safety and food handling tips to help keep this year's Fourth of July celebrations safe from injury and illness. 

  "The Fourth of July holiday weekend is a great opportunity to relax, spend time with friends and family and enjoy all that a summer in New Jersey has to offer," said DCA Commissioner Richard E. Constable, III. "As we celebrate, I encourage residents to take all necessary precautions when using gas fired grills as the summer season begins. Unfortunately, there have been a number of instances where propane tanks have leaked volatile propane fumes, leading to fires and explosions."

The National Fire Protection Association's data through 2011 reveals that fire departments nationwide, including those in New Jersey, responded to an average of 8,600 home fires involving gas-fired or charcoal grills. Those fires resulted in an annual average of 10 fatalities, 140 injuries, and nearly $96 million in property damage. Nearly 82 percent of those fires involved gas fired grills while 16 percent used charcoal or other solid fuel. More than one-quarter (27%) of the home structure fires involving grills started on a courtyard, terrace or patio, 29% started on an exterior balcony or open porch, and 6% started in the kitchen. In almost half (43%) of the home outdoor fires in which grills were involved, half (51%) of the outside gas grills, and 29% of gas grill structure fires, the fire started when a flammable or combustible gas or liquid caught fire. Along with following safety instructions for grills, it's important to prepare, handle and cook food properly to avoid illness.

"Whether you're cooking out in the backyard or on a picnic, always keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. When you're finished eating, refrigerate leftovers promptly," said Commissioner of Health Mary O'Dowd.  "Make sure you thoroughly cook beef, chicken or pork and wash your hands frequently as well as any surfaces used to prepare food."


·     Thoroughly clean all cutting boards and surfaces that come in contact with raw food.
·     When preparing foods, use two cutting boards - one for raw meat, chicken and fish, and one for vegetables or other foods that will not be cooked.
·     Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds in warm soapy water before and after preparing foods.
·     Check to ensure food is thoroughly cooked by inserting a food thermometer at an angle into the thickest part of the meat, chicken or fish to check the internal temperature. Cook hamburgers to at least 155°F, chicken and stuffed meats to at least 165°F, and steaks, pork, fish and whole beef or pork roasts to at least 145°F.
·     Keep cold foods in the refrigerator until serving time.
·     Keep hot food hot by using tabletop equipment such as chafing dishes and sternos.
·     Refrigerate leftovers immediately. Discard food that has been left out for four or more hours.

·     When lighting the grill for the first time, or anytime, make certain the lid is open or in an up position.
·     To maintain your gas grill, keep it covered when not in use. Replace worn or defective parts.
·     Check the gas valve to grill connections. Use soapy water only to check for leaks.
·     Always make certain the supply knobs and the propane tank itself are completely turned off
·     Never use any accelerant (lighter fluid, or charcoal lighting fluid) to light a gas grill.
·     Keep children away from the grill at all times.
·     Keep the grill away from any structure on your property, especially your home.
·     DO NOT grill in or under any structure.

·     Never use anything other than charcoal briquettes, (wood, cardboard, etc.) in a charcoal grill.
·     Use only approved charcoal grill fluid to ignite the charcoal.
·     Keep children away at all times.
·     Keep the grill away from any structure on your property, especially your home.
·     DO NOT grill in or under any structure.

More information on DCA's Division of Fire Safety and their various public education campaigns, visit https://nj.gov/dca/divisions/dfs/
For more on food safety, please visit: https://nj.gov/health/foodanddrugsafety/

Last Reviewed: 7/2/2014