Did you know that July is the peak month for grilling fires followed by May, June and August? It's true, each year nearly 9,000 home fires are caused by grilling.

Tuscaloosa Fire & Rescue Service encourages outdoor chefs to pay attention to safety in the summer months when home fires involving grilling incidents occur most often.

Here are a few tips they've offered to help you protect your home and family when cooking outdoors:

  • More than one-half of home fires started by grills began on a courtyard, balcony, patio or porch. Fire officials say that grills should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area. Never leave your grill unattended.
  • Gas grills contribute to a higher number of home fires overall than their charcoal counterparts Overall, leaks or breaks were factors in one of every five reported grill fires. Check the propane cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will reveal escaping propane quickly by releasing bubbles. When finished using your propane barbecue always make sure that you not only turn off the barbecue but shut off the propane cylinder too
  • Many charcoal grill fires begin with careless use of starter fluid. Buy the proper starter fluid and store out of reach of children and away from heat sources. Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going. Allow coals to cool for 48 hours before disposing. If you are not able to wait, douse coals with plenty of water, and stir them to ensure that the fire is out. Never place coals in plastic, paper or wooden containers, only metal.

Have fun grilling with your friends and family this summer and be safe!