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  • Get all up in your grill:

  • Before you fire up and start flipping, make sure you know how to keep your cookout from becoming a catastrophe. Whether using a charcoal or gas grill this season, follow these steps to prevent your good times from going up in smoke:

    • Location, Location, Location: No matter what the weather may be doing, never bring a barbecue grill indoors or into any other unventilated space. This includes sheds, garages or tents. Not only can sparks fly and ignite a flame, but grilling inside can also expose inhabitants to toxic fumes and potential asphyxiation.
    • Keep Your Distance: Make sure your grill is at least ten feet away from any flammable object-house, garage, picnic bench, tree, bush, etc. And don't just look around; look up for overhead decks, eaves or branches that could pose a problem.
    • The No-Zone: Draw a line in the sand, grass or concrete to keep children, pets and foot traffic away from the grill area. Declare a three-foot safety zone around the grill to ensure that no accidents occur.
    • Look for Leaks: Always check a propane grill before using it for the first time each year. A quick sniff should tell you if something is amiss, or you can apply a light soap and water solution to the gas cylinder hose and watch for the telltale bubbles of escaping propane. If you suspect a leak, turn off the gas tank and grill immediately. If the leak stops, take the grill in for repair. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department immediately.
    • Laws of Liquid: Always remember to have a water supply close by to deal with any grilling flare-ups. A garden hose or at least 16 quarts of water will be sufficient enough to quench a flame. Remember to keep alcoholic beverages a safe distance away from the grill, as alcohol is flammable.
    • Grease is the Word: Make sure to thoroughly clean your grill in between uses. Grease buildup can greatly increase the risk of a fire. If the grease does ignite and cause a fire, do not try to extinguish it with water, which will only spread the grease around. Instead, cover with a lid or smother the fire with baking soda.
    • Dress Code: Tell the chef to avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing that could easily get caught in the flame. Always use flame-resistant mitts and keep several long-handled grilling tools at the ready to flip food from a safe distance.

    Next time you're heating things up in the backyard, make sure to enjoy the sounds, smells and sizzle of summer safely.


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