Firing up your gas grill safely for a barbecue should be first on your warm weather duties. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy a good barbecue in your backyard. Unfortunately, it’s also the time when injuries spike from avoidable household grill accidents. While your homeowner’s insurance will cover any damage to your home as well as injuries for anyone that is hurt, you can avoid the injury and insurance claim altogether by taking the following precautions to keep you, your family and guests safe during all your summer barbecues.

Propane 101
Most gas grills today are fueled by propane gas.  Because of its extremely flammable nature, it is essential that you store, maintain and use your propane tank properly to avoid serious injury.

Storing Propane
Always store the propane tank outdoors in a well-ventilated space that is away from heavy foot traffic.  Be sure the tank is sitting on a flat, level surface in an upright position. Choose a firm spot where water will not pool around the tank to prevent rusting.

Maintaining the Tank
Dust your propane tank periodically to clear away dust and cobwebs from the valve and valve guard. You can also check for leaks by performing a soap test. You should always perform a soap test outdoors and prior to using a tank that has been stored for a long period (like over the winter). To conduct the test, make a soap solution with water and dish detergent. Turn all the gas controls to off on your grill and then connect the tank. Turn on the gas valve to help pressurize the system. Dip a sponge in the solution and spread it over the tank’s gas valve, hose, and regulator. If a gas leak exists, a soap bubble will instantly form and begin to grow. If a bubble does form or you smell gas, turn off the gas valve right away and stop using the tank.

Using the Tank
You should only connect your propane tank to a gas grill that is completely outdoors. Propane can suffocate when used in small spaces. Never use the tank to grill in your garage—even with the door open.  Also, be sure to turn the gas valve off on your tank first and then turn off the gas controls on your grill. By doing this, you will prevent gas from getting trapped inside the hose while the grill is not being used.

Grilling Safety Precautions
Once you ensure the propane tank is in good working order, be sure to also keep these safety tips in mind when you fire up the grill:

1. Only grill on a flat, level surface.
2. Keep small children and pets away from the grilling area.
3. Protect yourself while grilling with grilling apron and a glove that covers your cooking forearm.
4. Store a fire extinguisher near the grill.
5. Let the grill completely cool before covering it.

What to Do When an Accident Occurs
For a minor burn, immediately run cool water on the affected area. Afterwards, allow the skin to breathe and avoid the temptation to apply any creams, salves or bandages. If the burn is more serious, seek immediate medical attention.

If your property is damaged, contact your insurance broker to discuss filing a claim.