NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Normally the talk about Fourth of July safety includes the dangers of fireworks. This year emergency room doctors want people to be aware of a different holiday hazard.

The danger isn’t catching things on fire, it’s the brushes used to clean the grills.

Emergency room doctors warn, depending on what kind you use, it could be deadly.

Jerry Jones, an advanced EMT for Vanderbilt’s LifeFlight, was on vacation. He took a bite from a nice, juicy burger and immediately realized something was wrong.

“I just kept feeling something in my throat the whole time,” said Jones.

Jones is used to responding to emergencies, not having them himself.

He was rushed to Vanderbilt University Medical Center where an MRI showed a metal wire bristle from a grill brush stuck in the soft tissue at the back of his throat.

“It was within millimeters of my carotid artery,” Jones said. “If it had hit that, I’d have died on the spot.”

Dr. Corey Slovis said it happens more than you think. The metal bristles from grill cleaning brushes get left on the grill and stuck in unsuspecting people’s food.

“You’re not likely to see a very, very fine piece of metal laying against another metal,” Slovis said. “It’s blackened. You’re just going to miss it.”

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control is just starting to get the word out.

“It is a fine needle-like piece of metal that can puncture your esophagus,” Slovis said. “It can puncture any part of your GI track, stomach or intestine, and there have been some horrible injuries from it.”

As you fire up the grill for this Fourth of July, be warned. Take it from Jones, who wishes the metal grill brushes were now banned.

“I use one of those rocks and then I put aluminum foil down so that I can see exactly what I’m looking at because you go through something like this, and it’s scary. You’ll never forget it,” Jones said.

Doctors offer these suggestions for using your grill:

  • Don’t use grill brushes with metal bristles.
  • Wipe down grills before grilling food.

If you eat something grilled and you feel something scratchy in the back of your throat, doctors said it’s a good idea to get X-rays. is now with you on the go! Get the latest news updates and video, 4WARN weather forecast, weather radar, special investigative reports, sports headlines and much more from News4 Nashville.

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