Cooking out is a favorite summer pastime for many Americans. Unfortunately, grilling comes with risks. Statistics from the National Fire Protection Association show that fire departments in the U.S. responded to about 8,900 fires sparked by grills, barbecues, or hibachis each year between 2009 and 2013. In addition, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 30 people are hurt each year in propane tank explosions. Luckily, many of these injuries are entirely preventable. Check out these grilling safety tips before your next cookout:

Choose your location wisely.

Never grill indoors, on a covered deck or balcony, or under an overhang. Instead choose a safe spot outside with good ventilation. Grill at least six feet from your home or any other structure, and away from overhanging branches.

Watch out for children and pets.

Children and pets are not aware of the dangers of contact with a hot grill, so it is important that you supervise them closely when you use a grill. Do not allow them near the grill once it is hot, and ensure all games and toys remain a safe distance from the barbeque. Keep an especially close eye on kids playing soccer or kickball, because a loose ball can quickly knock over a grill.

Check for hose leaks annually.

At least once a year, check your propane tank hoses for leaks. The best time to do this is at the start of the grill season. If you grill year-round, pick a time that is easy to remember each year. When the time comes, apply soapy water to the hose, turn on the propane, and watch for any bubbles that form due to escaping gas. Replace any leaking hoses immediately.

Respond quickly to propane leaks.

Checking your propane connections regularly is the easiest way to prevent leaks. However, they are still possible. If you smell gas, turn the tank valve to the off position immediately. If the smell dissipates, you should call a professional to repair or replace your connections. If the smell remains, the fire department can help you determine the source and ensure your safety.

Never apply flammable liquids to the fire.

If you need to apply starter fluid to the charcoal, always do so before lighting the fire. Never squirt or pour lighter fluid, gasoline, or other flammable liquids onto a fire. Always remember to keep these out of a child’s reach.

Keep all combustible materials away from the flames.

Ensure your sleeve, apron, and other clothing stay out of the fire. Always store paper plates, napkins, and other combustible materials several feet away. Be especially careful with starter fluid, which can emit combustible vapors that may catch fire from several feet away.

Clean the grill regularly.

Cleaning the grill regularly is not only important for food hygiene, but for fire prevention as well. Scraping it down after each use prevents fat and excess food from dropping into the flames and causing burns from popping or flare ups.

Ensure the grill is stable.

Only grill on flat ground where the grill is stable and not at risk of tipping. If the grill itself is wobbly, tighten the screws that connect the base to the body. A wobbly or unsteady barbeque could tilt or topple and cause a fire, burning you and other bystanders.

Keep a fire extinguisher handy.

While preventing unwanted grill fires is the best option, it is always important to be prepared in case of an emergency. Have a fire extinguisher on hand, know how to use it, and replace it when it gets close to its expiration date.

Use the proper utensils and safety gear.

Grilling utensils have long handles for a reason. They protect your hands and arms from the heat and flames. Always use utensils designed for cooking out, and wear additional hand and/or arm protection when needed. This eliminates most of the risk associated with popping oils or fat.

Handling a Burn

Even the most careful grillers can suffer injury. If you or a loved one suffered an outdoor burn injury, seek medical care immediately. Burn Victims Resource Center contains information about treatment options, your potential legal rights to compensation, and how others have handled their recovery. You can also contact one of our lawyer referral specialists today for help finding a lawyer. Call 844-549-8774.