Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer – kick it off right by hosting a cookout your friends and family will love. But remember, safety first!
Reduce Fire Risk
A summer cookout is a great way to bring friends, family, and coworkers together for a few laughs and some great food. However, outdoor grills increase the risk of fires and fire-related injuries so it’s important that you grill safely.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, most homes have gas grills which cause about 7,900 home fires per year and 16,600 fire-related injuries. Their principle recommendations to avoid a grill fire include:
- Check your gas grill for leaks or breaks- they’re the primary causes of fires
- Only operate the grill in an open space away from structures and flammable materials such as tree branches, patio furniture, and clothing
- Ensure the unit sits on a flat, stable surface
- Clean the grill after you use it to remove fat buildup in the tray and on the grill itself. If you use a charcoal grill, allow the coals to cool and then dispose of them in a metal container
- Wait to re-light – if you can’t get the gas grill started immediately, turn the unit off and wait at least five minutes to allow the propane or gas to dissipate
- Don’t leave the grill burning without someone nearby – they get extremely hot quickly and can cause severe burns
- Use protective equipment – a pair of mitts, an apron, and proper grilling tools with long handles can go a long way towards burn prevention
- Buy an ABC fire extinguisher – never throw water on a grease fire. Clear the area, call 9-1-1, and douse the fire. If you can’t put it out immediately, leave the area.
Keep It Simple
While Martha Stewart might have time for elaborate menus and perfect decorations, you probably just want to enjoy good food and time with friends and family.
Keep the menu simple, or make it a potluck. Just ask everyone to let you know what they’re bringing to avoid duplication. If you’re set on preparing the food, limit the recipes so you don’t wear yourself out. It also makes shopping so much easier. A great way to add zing is to vary classic recipes.
For instance, grill corn on the cob with a bit of lime juice and then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Make a watermelon salad with feta and mint instead of just slicing the fruit. Throw some apple in the coleslaw and use Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise. You can also create your own signature BBQ Sauce or special spice blends for poultry, pork, beef, or seafood.
String up LED lights around the patio, throw some picnic blankets on the grass, and add a few battery powered tea light candles to mason jars for ambience after sunset.
Don’t Forget Drinks & Dessert
Grilling deserves a few pitchers of tasty drinks. The great thing is they’re festive, simple, and easy to make with or without alcohol. An unbreakable jug and glasses, slices of lemon and lime, sprigs of mint, club soda, and your favorite fruit juice and you’re good to go.
Use the grill to create delicious grilled banana boats for dessert. Set up a small station so everyone can decorate their banana with what they want. Include whatever you like – marshmallows, chocolate, graham crackers, caramel, peanut butter, and M&Ms. Serve with a knife and fork.
Cheerful background music creates a festive mood without overpowering conversations. Whether you like pop, jazz, soul, country, or classic rock, choose tunes that make you feel happy. If you’re not up for playing DJ, stream a playlist from your favorite performers.
Did Someone Say Games?
Croquet, Frisbee, backyard badminton, horseshoes, football, lawn darts, or a few games of sandlot baseball are all great ways to involve everyone in some hilarity. Three-legged races or a water fight are sure to make people get in on the fun.
Serve Alcohol Wisely
Rhode Island enforces social host laws regarding alcohol service. These laws ban alcohol service to minors and the sale of alcoholic drinks unless you buy a liquor license.
Failing to adhere to social host laws can have serious consequences. A first offense could cost you between $350 and $1,000, and/or a prison sentence up to six months. Repeat offenses have even higher fines and sentences.
Seriously consider whether you should include alcohol in your cookout. It isn’t a requirement for a good time, and it can be difficult to monitor consumption during a busy event.
Before you host a backyard cookout, check your liability limits on your homeowner’s insurance policy with your insurance agent.
While no one wants to think about it, people can hurt themselves at fun events. Protect yourself from the costs associated with a lawsuit and medical treatment by making a quick call to review your coverage before you send out those invitations.