With Spring in full swing and Summer right around the corner you are likely preparing to start cooking your favorite meats and veggies out on the BBQ.  The warmer temperatures and many national holidays such as Easter, the end of the school year, Memorial Day, and the 4th of July, the grill is often a staple in family and friendly gatherings. And while these gatherings are sure to provide endless fun and excitement, it is important to ensure you know the proper do’s and don’ts when it comes to BBQ grill safety. In addition to the following, be sure to follow these other backyard safety tips to help ensure a good time for all.

Since your grill has likely been sitting without use for the winter months, it will surely need a thorough cleaning and a tune up if you have a gas grill. There are a few things you should do before you light the first flame this grilling season:

Clean the grill

You should clean your grill using only appropriate cleaning solutions such as soap and water, grill cleaner, or water alone. It’s best to use a hard wired brush to remove the caked on fat residue that naturally piles up on the bottom of the collection pit, which is usually located at the bottom most part of the cooking chamber. Using the wire brush and your cleaning solvent to remove any excess dirt, grime, and grease build up will keep the grills temperatures even and prevent scorching and flare ups. It is important to note that most people forget to clean the hood, and this part of the grill is just as susceptible to getting dirty as any other part. Next are the gas rails on the bottom of the cooking chamber. Most gas grills are retired and thrown away due to lack of maintenance on them, especially the gas rails. When dirt clogs up the small gas ports, it’s not going to burn evenly and can cause flare ups which ends up burning meat and scorching vegetables. Cleaning these small holes with a wire brush and cleaner will prevent these potential mishaps at your BBQ.

Service the grill 

It is important to service the gas tank and check the hoses for leaks or damage. With changes in weather, time, and neglect, these hoses become brittle and can leak out gas. This can cause very serious issues when the grill has an open fire and there is gas leaking underneath. Hundreds of people a year are injured because of this one overlook alone. Use a spray bottle with mild soapy water while the gas is on but not lit to check for any small bubbles. If you see bubbles or leakage, then you need to replace the hoses or call a service technician.

Be aware of your surroundings 

Finally, you should never cook near any structures, roof awnings, tarps, overhangs, or vehicles. You especially should never grill near any gas cans or explosive containers, even if you believe they are empty. And, if BBQ-ing around family, make sure the little ones are aware of the dangers and not to ever touch the grill, even if they think it’s cooled down. Pet’s can sometimes be over enthusiastic and accidentally knock a lit grill over, so it’s highly recommended to keep your pets indoors and away from the grill until the cooking has been completed and the grill has cooled off.

Of course, even with the best grilling preparation and safety precautions, accidents do still happen. You should speak with your licensed insurance broker at Magruder Insurance to ensure your homeowner’s insurance policy provides the coverage you need to protect your home with all changing seasons this year. You should also keep these tips in mind to staying safe (and reduce your liability) should your afternoon BBQ turn into an evening bonfire.