If you are new to grilling and want to give that new barbecue grill a whirl before summer ends, proceed carefully. Grilling is simple, and people who know how to use a grill make it look very, very easy. But grilling is packed full of ways to injure yourself or others, and you really have to be careful when you use the grill. Here are some ways to avoid getting a face full of flames.

Before Grilling

Inspect the grill and any pipes or hoses leading to things like propane tanks. Even if the grill is a charcoal-based one, check over the legs of the grill, the hinges on the lid, and other parts. The intense heat from the fire in the grill can cause faulty hoses to weaken and other parts to melt if they aren't working correctly and aren't in great shape.

Spray or otherwise grease the racks of the grill before you light anything. You would think this would be common sense, but Cooking Light lists this as their number-one grilling problem. They also recommend using a cooking oil that has a high smoke point, like peanut oil.

If the racks are actually dirty and coated in burnt food from the last time you used it, Serious Eats says to get the fire going first and let the heat soften the dried crud. Then, take a grill brush to the grate and scrub away.

During Grilling

If you start to use the grill and find that something isn't working, stop using the grill. In 2010, NBC News spoke with doctors about the grilling injuries they'd seen, and one doctor told the story of a patient who tried to use a gas grill with an electric starter that didn't work. The patient lit a match but didn't realize that a lot of gas had already built up. The patient ended up with second-degree burns and a nearly bald head.

Stand back and wear protective clothing that will keep grease off you if anything splatters. The same doctor who told NBC News about the electric starter had another patient who received grease-splatter burns on her torso and face after she decided to grill while topless.

After Grilling

This is where advice diverges. Reader's Digest says to clean the grill thoroughly after using it, but Serious Eats says to remove only large pieces of food, letting the general crud serve as a protective layer while the grill is stored away. Given that grease buildup on old grills can ignite as well as give off foul-smelling smoke, cleaning the grill after you're done is the safer thing to do. You can also look for special grills like the Big Green Egg, which lets residual heat melt away grease buildup after you're done cooking.

If you want more advice on how to grill safely, contact outdoor supply stores and grill manufacturers. Grilling produces tasty food when done right, and you want to be sure that you're using the grill as perfectly as possible. For more information, contact Hearth and Patio or a similar company.

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