6 grilling safety tips

Follow these tips to ensure your cookouts are safe this summer.

With summer upon us, residents are getting outside to enjoy as much of the sunshine and warm weather as they can. A great way to do this is with a backyard barbecue, or simply preparing an evening's meal out on the grill.

While grilling is a common summertime tradition enjoyed by millions of people across the country, it's not a fail-proof process. Making a few simple mistakes while grilling can cause significant harm to your home and loved ones, so be sure to take every possible safety precaution before cooking out, such as the following:

1. Pull the grill away from your home 
A common error that's easy to overlook is the distance between the grill and the house. It may not seem like much of a hazard, but you can actually cause a fire by leaving your grill against the side of the building when you cook! Avoid this problem by simply moving the location of your grill. If you have trees in your yard, don't place your grill directly underneath any low branches, either.

"Grills can emit carbon monoxide."

2. Only grill outdoors
Have you ever planned to grill in your backyard, only to have the skies open up on you as you get ready to light it up? It may seem tempting to move that grill to the garage, porch or even inside the house, but no meal is worth the risk these actions can bring. Grills can emit gases like carbon monoxide when they're running. If you grill inside any type of enclosed area, you trap these gases in with you and it gets mixed with the air you breathe. Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause serious illness and even death, so play it safe and use your stove if you can't make it outdoors on your grill. 

3. Keep an extinguisher handy
Even the most experienced grillers can be caught by surprise with a sudden fire they can't contain. Never use any kind of open flame without having a fire extinguisher nearby. If anything should go wrong, you won't have time to go find it if it isn't already next to you. Though you may think this threat is unlikely, it's definitely a case where you'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it!

4. Make sure the grill is steady
Find the flattest, sturdiest surface you can to place your grill on. These appliances can tip easier than you think and that could have devastating consequences if it's on. A hot charcoal briquette or ignited propane line won't need much time to send a dry summer lawn into flames, so be careful with your grill placement. 

5. Triple check that off switch
When your food is ready, it can be hard to be patient and not just rush to enjoy your well-earned meal. Leaving the grill on can be a costly mistake, however, so never walk away from a it unless you are completely sure it's off. It only takes a few seconds to double check, so be diligent in your grilling duties and make sure that last step is completed before you walk away.

"Don't store anything flammable near your grill."

6. Store it properly 
No one likes to have a lot of supplies just lying around their yard, but be careful how you clean up your supplies. Never stow leftover charcoal on or under a lit grill. You need to be careful with how you put everything away at the end of the event as well. After the grill has completely cooled down and you're ready to put it away, make sure you do so safely and securely. Don't store anything flammable near your grill or its fuel sources or you could end up with an easily avoidable disaster on your hands. 

Grilling is an American past time, and if you like cooking outdoors you should feel good about setting up in your yard and throwing your favorite barbecue foods on the fire. Just be sure to follow these basic safety tips to ensure you keep yourself and all of your loved ones out of harm's way.