Summertime offers the perfect weather for cookouts. However, if you don’t follow safe practices, you can damage your grill, cause injury, or even start a house fire. Here are six essential grilling safety tips for cookout season.

1. The Most Important Grilling Safety Tip: Never Leave a Lit Grill Unattended

The most important grilling safety practice is to never leave an active grill unattended. Like any other heat source, an unattended grill is a fire hazard and can also be dangerous to children and pets. If you need to walk away from a lit grill for even a few seconds, ask someone else to tend to the grill in your absence.

2. Keep Grills Away from the House

Before you start up the grill, make sure that you’re at least ten feet away from your house and any other structure. In the event that flames get out of control, you don’t want your home or property to suffer damage.

3. Use Tools With Long Handles for Grilling Safety

Reaching across a hot grill can lead to burns, so long-handled grilling tools are a great purchase. Long handles are especially useful if you’re using your grill’s entire surface area to cook for a large group of people.

4. Keep Lighters Away from the Grill

Another one of the most important grilling safety tips is to keep all lighters, matches, and other flammable items far away from your grill. Keeping items that may ignite nearby is a serious fire hazard.

5. Separate Raw and Cooked Meats

One of the most overlooked grilling safety tips is to properly handle food by keeping raw and cooked meats separate. If cooked meat comes into contact with raw meat, the prepared food may become contaminated. One of your guests could end up sick because of unsafe grilling practices.

6. Keep the Grill Area Clear

Cooking out is more dangerous when the grill is surrounded by children and pets. Keep your grill away from the more heavily trafficked parts of your yard. Give yourself plenty of room to maneuver while you cook to reduce the likelihood of injury to yourself or others.

When grilling, have another adult present to keep an eye on children and pets. Establish a three-foot safety zone around your grilling area and teach kids to keep out of that space.

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