BBQ grills: the key to carefree summer smorgasbords or deadly incendiary death traps? Over the weekend, a Massachusetts man was nearly burned to death after applying sunscreen while standing by the grill at a backyard BBQ. And here in NYC, Queens paramedic Michael Snyder recently wound up in the emergency room after a BBQ, because a 1" metal bristle from a grill brush got lodged in his throat. Here is his cautionary tale:

I was at a friends place where we were having a barbecue. I cleaned the grill with a metal grill-brush and then proceeded to cook the food. While eating chicken I felt something get stuck in my throat, which I figured was a chicken bone. I tried to get it out by coughing, with a toothbrush, chugging water, but nothing worked. I spent the entire weekend with the pain in my throat.

While at work on Monday the pain got worse, and I was advised to go to the ER. The ER doctor numbed my throat with spray, used a tongue depressor, and reached in with a pair of tweezers. I actively felt him pull the object out, which proved to be a 1'' metal bristle from the brush. He said it was lodged in my tonsils.

Ouch, we hate it when that happens! Considering this is just the latest grill brush bristle horror story, it's worth noting that there is a safe alternative to metal grill brushes: the humble onion. As TLC explains, first you fire up the grill to "super hot so it will be easy for the clumped up gook to scrape off." Then you cut an onion in half, stab it with a fork, and use the flat end to rub down the grate. It's environmentally friendly and bristle-free. To be sure, other grill dangers remain a constant threat... and there's no safeguarding against utter stupidity:

[Video via Grub Street, which has more, much more.]