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A teenager required surgery after swallowing a wire that became loose from a barbecue grill cleaning brush and was cooked in her hamburger. A 50-year-old man underwent surgery after a CT scan found a bristle poking through the wall of his small intestine. The man had eaten at a steak at a barbecue prior to experiencing abdominal pain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said there were at least five other reported cases where bristles were identified by X-rays of the neck or CT scans of the abdomen. No injuries have been life-threatening, but these wire bristles can, and have punctured internal organs.

Because the CDC doesn’t have information on the types or brands of grill-cleaning brushes, there have been no recalls or safety recommendations as to which brushes may reduce risks. The CDC recommends using a moist cloth or paper towel to clean the grill surface before cooking as an alternative to wire brushes. If you must use a wire brush, carefully inspect the grill surface for any remaining wire bristles that may have separated from the grill brush. Additionally, the CDC warns doctors that the bristles are small and can be tough to see on X-rays and scans, so greater awareness of such injuries in emergency rooms might help in diagnosing symptoms.

While on the subject of grilling safety, remember to fully cook meats to avoid food poisoning and wash hands thoroughly before and after handling food. Make sure raw meats are kept away from cooked foods and never put cooked meats on a plate that previously contained raw meats until it has been thoroughly cleaned. It is also important not leave food out more than two hours because bacteria can thrive in those conditions.

And a few safety tip reminders:

1. Only grill outdoors and away from the house and other structures.

2. Never store a grill indoors; don’t attempt to move it until it has completely cooled.

3. Never leave the grill unattended, once lit; keep a fire extinguisher close by.

4. Keep the lid open when lighting the grill.

5. Keep your grill clean to avoid grease fires.

6. Keep children and pets a safe distance away from grills.

7. Regularly check the grill for cracks and leaks. Do not light a match to check for leaks.

8. For charcoal grills, use starter fluid sparingly, and never add it to an open flame.

9. For propane grills, make sure the spark igniter is consistently generating a spark to create a flame and burn the propane gas. If the flame is not visible, gas may be escaping and could cause an explosion.

10. Always store propane tanks outdoors, in an upright position.

In the event of a fire, close the grill cover if using a charcoal grill. For propane grills, turn off the burners. Also shut off the take valve, if possible. Never try to extinguish a grease fire with water; it will cause the flames to flare up. Only use an approved fire extinguisher. If personal safety or property is at risk, call 9-1-1 immediately.

A happy cookout is a safe cookout!

Mark Bello has thirty-five years experience as a trial lawyer and thirteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Member of Public Justice and Public Citizen, Business Associate of the Florida, Mississippi, Connecticut, Texas, and Tennessee Associations for Justice, and Consumers Attorneys of California, member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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