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5 Tips for Summer Barbecue Safety

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It's finally time to start celebrating the approach of summer. And what better way to do that than hosting or attending an outdoor barbecue. Good friends, good food, and good times are some of the best things about summertime.

As you make plans to fire up the grill, there are a number of important safety precautions to keep in mind. According to a 2016 report from the National Fire Protection Association, 8,900 home fires are started each year by grills, with 16,600 patients requiring treatment at the emergency room because of injuries involving grills. And gas grills contribute to a higher number of these fires and injuries than charcoal grills, with 62% of U.S. households owning a gas grill.

With those scary statistics, you realize how important it is to practice safety when operating a grill. Here are five grill safety tips to consider.

1. Keep a safe distance: Your grill should be located a minimum of ten feet away from your home. Don't place it too close to windows, wooden overhangs/gutters, or other structures on your property. Also keep your grill away from main traffic areas so children and pets can't get too close. And never grill indoors, which includes a garage or shed.

2. Minimize flare ups: If you allow grease to build up on your grill grates, this can cause flare ups. Get into the habit of cleaning your grill grates after every use. While you're grilling, keep a water spray bottle nearby to douse any flare-ups that may occur. You should also have a working fire extinguisher on hand.

3. Monitor the food: When you have items on the grill, don't leave it unattended.  A sudden flare-up can become a large fire quickly if you're not keeping an eye on it. When placing food on the grill, don't overload the grates. Too much fat dripping on the flames can quickly cause a large fire.

4. Stash your supplies: Keep starter fluid and charcoal stored in a cool dry place, out of reach of children. Make sure any propane tanks are stored properly and, again, out of reach of children and pets. If your grill doesn't have a tank storage cabinet underneath, disconnect the tank after each use and store it.

5. Work with a clear head: While barbecues and beers often go hand in hand, be sure you're clear headed when grilling. You need to pay attention to the grill and have a quick reaction time should a problem arise. Save the cold one for after the food comes off the grill.

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