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Summer is the perfect for spending time outdoors, which often means enjoying picnics and food from the grill. In fact, July is the most popular month for grilling. When grilling it is important to follow safety precautions to protect your family, your home and your property.

Preparation

Before you begin to grill it is important to prepare the area where you are grilling. If you are grilling on your deck or patio, especially if it is wood, it is recommended to use a patio or deck protector. Also keeping your grill away from overhangs, tree branches, and your home is advised in order to avoid a fire. Also keeping a fire extinguisher nearby in case of a fire is a good safety measure. Grill during good weather, not during storms or high wind. There is a chance that your charcoal grill could blow over or embers could catch the wind and carry to a flammable substance.

Charcoal Grill: to prepare your charcoal for lighting begin by spreading the coals evenly across the bottom of the grill on the grate about two inches past the cooking area being used. For instance, if you are only grilling four hamburgers, there is no need to fill the entire grate with charcoal. The coals then should be gathered into a loose mound prior to igniting. Self-lighting charcoal can safely be ignited with a long chimney match. If you do not use the self-lighting charcoal, then only use the amount of lighter fluid that is recommended on the container. People routinely use more lighter fluid than necessary and this can cause a large, uncontrollable flame. Best practice with whichever type of charcoal you use is to use a long chimney match to light the coals. Lighting a standard size match and throwing it in the grill is not recommended as it is harder to control where the match will land. In addition, oil the grate before placing the food on top to avoid sticking. Do not use a spray can of oil to spray onto the grate once the fire has started.

Propane Gas Grill: Before you begin to grill, check all of the hose connections and make sure they are tight. Also check the hoses themselves to make sure they are in good condition and free of tears, frays, or punctures. Wipe out the drip tray prior to using the grill as well, and make sure the grate is clean. You can clean the grate with a grate brush to remove the leftover debris.. Before you start cooking, let your gas grill heat up for about ten to fifteen minutes with the lid closed. This will burn off any debris on the grates that was leftover prior to cooking and will also allow you to notice if you smell gas. If you do happen to smell a gas odor, turn off the grill immediately. If everything appears to be in good working order and there is no gas odor, then oil the grate with a long handled brush to prevent food from sticking and you can then begin to cook.

Cooking

Charcoal Grill: you can begin to place your food on the grill once the coals are ready. You will know that they are ready when the glowing coals have a consistent layer of ash around them. This will take approximately thirty minutes from when the fire was started, so plan accordingly. Once you start cooking you will want to stay close to keep an eye on your grill. Sometimes the flames get too high or too hot and can cause the food to burn or the flame to get out of control. Also drippings from food, especially meat can cause sparks which may carry in the wind. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of your meat prior to removing it from the grill. Because of the nature of grilling, meat does not always cook consistently from one piece to another. Checking several areas of all of the pieces of meat is recommended. Propane Gas Grill: always stay near the grill and watch it while in use. When cooking, use long handled tongs and spatulas made for grilling. It is not recommended to use regular sized tongs and/or spatulas in order to keep your hands as far away from the flames as possible. Just like with a charcoal grill you will want to watch out for any drippings that may spark the flames and check the temperature of your meat on all pieces in several places before serving. Poultry should be at least 165° before serving.

Storage

Charcoal Grill: always make sure your grill is cooled completely before covering it or placing it in a shed or garage for storage. Prior to storing your grill, clean the grate with a wire brush and dispose of any leftover charcoals. You will want to wait at least 48 hours before disposing of leftover, used charcoals. To properly dispose of the charcoal and ashes, wrap them in aluminum foil and dispose of in a non-combustible trash receptacle.

Propane Gas Grill: as with a charcoal grill, make sure that your gas grill has properly cooled before storing or covering it. Scrape the grates before putting your grill away to remove any leftover debris. Most propane grills are made to be stored outside on your deck and do not need to be placed inside of a garage or shed. Although this is the case, they still need to be properly covered with a grill cover in order to avoid damage and deterioration. Make sure your grill cover is the proper size and fit in order for the grill to be shielded properly from the weather elements.

Follow these tips and you will be grilling safely all summer long. If you are in the market for a gas grill, then check out Ed’s Woodshed for a great selection of gas grills that are perfect for summer grilling.