Meridian Fire Dept. urges caution while grilling

MERIDIAN, Miss. WTOK) - While many Americans are getting ready to light the fireworks, they're first getting ready to light up the grill.

But for firefighters that means another concern: July is the peak month for grilling fires. If you're planning on grilling for the holiday, officials say it's important to be cautious. One of the most important tips is to always keep your grill well away from your home.

"Sometimes we see issues with grilling fires if people are grilling on the porch," Meridian Fire Dept. Capt. Kenny Robinson says. "The charcoal may get out and cause a small fire, which could potentially lead to a bigger fire. So there's always the potential there."

Here are some more tips from the Mississippi State Fire Marshal's Office:

Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors. The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. Keep children and pets away from the grill area. Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grill surface and in trays below the grill. Never leave your grill unattended.

Charcoal grills:

There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel. If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire. Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources. There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord approved for outdoor use. When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

Propane grills:

Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using propane grills for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department. If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.