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There’s nothing we love more on a sunny summer day than heading outdoors and enjoying all that this season has to offer. No matter what you get up to when the mercury rises, let’s take a look at some ways to keep you safe while you have fun in the sun.

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BBQ Safety Guide

What could be better than inviting all your nearest and dearest friends, family and neighbors round for a classic summer barbecue? You’ve got drinks chilling, meat marinating and charcoal heating up in the grill. We know that you don’t exactly want to focus on all the things that could go wrong but it’s best to be prepared so you don’t have to deal with any nasty surprises.

On average, over 10,000 Americans suffer BBQ-related burns each year. Burns can be serious and even life-changing if lighter fluid is involved, but people also injure themselves using knives and even deceptively sharp wire barbecue cleaning brushes. Contact burns are very common: although most are thankfully minor enough to treat at home, thousands of Americans end up at the ER each summer with grilling-related burns. That’s why it’s best to position your grill far away from where guests will be moving around and where children will be playing.

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Put fire safety first

Barbecues can lead to property damage that might not be covered by your homeowner’s insurance. If you position your grill too close to the house or even flammable outdoor furniture, you might have an out-of-control fire to deal with. It’s essential to carry out checks and ensure your grill is well maintained before a party, as failure to do so may void any coverage you have. The U.S. Fire Administration claims that around 5,700 grill fires break out at homes each year. The majority of these are caused by defective gas barbecues, and they can cause millions of dollars in property damage as well as countless injuries each summer.

Go easy on the drink

For some, a summer cookout wouldn’t be complete without an ice-cold beer. But it might be a good idea to wait until all the higher-risk jobs are complete before cracking open a cold one—you are four times more likely to be injured while grilling if you have been drinking alcohol. Booze impacts reaction times as well as critical thinking and dexterity, so a couple of Long Island iced teas can be the difference between nimbly flipping a burger and clumsily fumbling into the hot metal of your grill.

Keep it covered

Drinking alcohol in direct sunlight—particularly in strong midday sun—can really put a strain on your body too, increasingly your likelihood of suffering from dehydration and even heat exhaustion or heat stroke. So, drink water to stay hydrated and lay off the heavy drinking until after the sun is at its hottest between around 12 and 3 pm. Staying out of the sun’s direct rays also prevents sunburn and protects your body from the carcinogenic effects of UV rays.

Invest in a meat thermometer

A staggering 22% of Americans believe they have contracted food poisoning at a cookout, and the majority of grillers (two thirds) don’t use a meat thermometer to check if meat is fully cooked. So, use a meat thermometer to ensure your food is as safe as it is delicious (and if you’re unsure of your next BBQ host’s gung-ho attitude, maybe reach for the veggie burgers instead).

Have fun!

We know, we’ve just given you a load of rules. But we promise a BBQ with no burns, no ER trips and no property damage is even more fun! As long as you make sure you look after your grill well, drink plenty of water and provide an umbrella or awning for shade, there’ll be nothing to stop you enjoying your best summer cookout yet.