It’s Grilling Season. Here Are Some Safety Tips and a Fun Recipe!

It's grilling season! Photo by: Mike RhodesIt's grilling season! Photo by: Mike Rhodes

By: Ball State Division of Strategic Communications—

Ball State University’s Matt Chappell has seen it time after time. A fun afternoon in the backyard ruined by a mishap at the grill. Instead of eating perfectly cooked burgers, hot dogs and steaks, people spend a summer’s day in the emergency room being treated for burns.

“Safety is all important when grilling food,” says Chappell, a hospitality and food management instructor at Ball State. “However, many people are in a rush to get the charcoal started and the food done. It just leads to tragic accidents.”

The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that nearly 18,000 people annually go to the emergency room due to grilling-related accidents.

“Even though it might sound silly to some people, I always recommend reading the owner’s manual and following all the safety precautions,” Chappell says. “Then clean the grease traps to avoid any leftover materials that might cause a flash fire. You also should locate the grill in an open space away from a residence and away from trees and bushes.

“I also recommend having the correct tools such as over mitts and tongs as well as a nearby fire extinguisher. You would be surprised by how many people are burned by using regular forks without protecting their hands.”

He provides additional tips to make grilling with propane safe and fun:

• At the beginning of the season, check you hose connections and tighten if needed.

• Once the propane tank is attached, check for gas leaks. You can do this by turning the tank on and applying soapy water with a brush to the hoses and connections. If there is a leak, you will see bubbles form at the site.

• If you see a leak, turn off the tank immediately and get the grill fixed. Never use a grill that has a propane leak.

• If you smell gas while there is a flame, clear the area and call the fire department.

Chappell points out that the most dangerous part of charcoal grilling is using lighter fluid. He recommends buying a chimney starter, which sells for about $12.

“To light the charcoal, you just fill the chimney starter with lumps of charcoal, crumple a page of newspaper and light the newspaper. In 15 minutes, your coals will be red hot and ready to place in your grill.”

Chappell may be reached at 765-635-9994 or via email at

Matt’s fun grill recipe is to grill fruit…especially watermelon!

Grilled Watermelon Salad:
¼ cup honey
¼ cup water
1 personal sized seedless watermelon, cut into 4 – 6 planks
1 cup Kalamata olives
8 oz feta cheese, crumbled
2 cups baby arugala

  1. Start and preheat grill as hot as you can (charcoal is best, but gas will work too)
  2. Mix together honey and water.  Brush honey mixture onto watermelon planks.
  3. Season grill grate with a little oil, if needed.
  4. Place watermelon planks over direct heat on grill.
  5. After 45 seconds to 1 minute (depending on grill temperature), rotate planks 90 degrees to achieve square “grill marks”.
  6. Flip watermelon and repeat step 5.
  7. Remove watermelon to serving plates.
  8. Top each plank with some arugala, then feta and finally olives. Enjoy!