Read this before you fire up that grill

KINGSPORT — No matter what outdoor event you organize this year, food will surely play a major role and grills are often at the center of summer gatherings.

The Kingsport Fire Department and the National Fire Protection Association offer these simple safety tips and guidelines so you, your family and friends can reduce the risk of injuries:

* Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.

* The grill should be placed away from the home or deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

* Children and pets should be at least 3 feet away from the grill area.

* Keep your grill clean by removing grease and fat buildup from the grates and trays below.

* Never leave your grill unattended!

While cooking:

* Place the grill well away from overhanging branches according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

* Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic.

* Keep children and pets, and anything that can burn like food wrappers, an oven mitt or towel, at least 3-feet away from open flames and the grill.

* Use long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames.

* Have an adult present at all times when a campfire or grill is burning. Keep the fire small and never leave a fire unattended!

Before you use your gas grill:

* Check the major connection points between the gas (propane) tank hose and the regulator and cylinder, and where the hose connects to the burners. Tighten if loose.

* Check the gas (propane) tank hose for the potential (gas) leaks by completing the following steps.

* Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose using a brush or spray bottle.

* Turn the propane tank on. If there is a gas leak, the propane will release bubbles around the hose (big enough to see).

* If there are no bubbles, your grill is safe to use.

* If there are bubbles, turn off the tank and check connections, then have your grill serviced by a professional before using it again.

* If the leak doesn’t stop, call the fire department immediately.

When the grill is on:

* As you are cooking, if you smell gas, turn off the gas tank and burners.

* If the leak stops immediately, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.

* If the smell continues, move away from the grill and call the fire department immediately. Do not move the grill.

Charcoal Grilling safety tips:

A grill placed too close to anything that can burn is a fire hazard. They can be very hot, causing burn injuries.

Consider the following as you head out to the nearest campground, park or beach:

* Certain areas have restrictions regarding campfires and grills. Check if your area has any fire restrictions in place. Choose only those areas where fires are permitted.

* Check the fire danger rating in your area to determine if weather, or other factors make it dangerous to light a fire.

To start charcoal for cooking:

* There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to ignite the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.

* If you use a charcoal chimney, use a long match to avoid burning your fingers when lighting the paper.

* If you choose to use lighter fluid, use only fluid intended for charcoal grills.

* Never add charcoal starter fluid to coals or kindling that has already been ignited.

* Never use gasoline or any other flammable liquid except charcoal starter or lighter fluid to start a charcoal fire.

To dispose of charcoal after cooking: 

* Before going to sleep or leaving the area, douse the fire with water and make sure the area is cool to the touch.

* Empty the coals into a metal container with a tight-fitting lid that is used only to collect coals.

* Place the container outside and away from anything that can burn.

* Never empty coals directly into a trash can.

* Store the charcoal starter fluid out of reach of children and away from heat source.