Know this before you fire up the grill

(StatePoint) Warm weather is here and that means it's time to pull the cover off the grill and start cooking outside.

But be careful. Grill fires are all too common. Before starting up the grill, make sure you’ve taken the following precautions to keep your home safe.

• Landlord Knows Best. If you’re a renter, check with your landlord to see if grilling is even allowed. Oftentimes apartments don’t allow gas grills on balconies due to state fire codes. Renters living in single-family homes may be prevented from grilling if there are neighbors living close by or there isn’t a patio or outdoor space. Know the rules. If you’re not allowed to have a gas grill, consider alternatives like an electric grill or a community grill in a common area.

• Too Hot to Handle. Grill fires can start in a number of ways, including dirty grills, grilling too close to something that could catch fire and leaving the grill unattended. To prevent a fire, clean the grill after each use. Always keep it a safe distance from your building (at least 10 feet) and away from trees. Place the grill on a solid surface that can’t burn, such as concrete or asphalt. And never walk away from the grill while cooking, as a spark or small flame can easily spread.

• Safety First. Keep safe by getting equipped with tools and knowledge. Use long-handled spatulas, wear flame-resistant mitts and never wear loose-fitting clothes near an open flame. If you’re using a gas grill throughout summer, check it periodically for leaks. And keep baking soda or a small fire extinguisher nearby, since attempting to put out a fire with water will only cause the flames to flare up. Also, remind everyone of that life-saving rhyme “stop, drop and roll” to remember what to do if you catch on fire.

• Have the Right Insurance. As a homeowner or renter, even if you take precautions, accidents do happen, so make sure you’re properly covered for the summer grilling season and beyond. According to Erie Insurance, a standard renters insurance policy can help cover you if you’re responsible for causing injuries or damaging other people’s property.

No one wants to think about the worst-case scenario, especially when you’re planning a fun barbeque, but being protected is a way to give your family peace of mind. Plus, you can’t be too sure your neighbors are practicing safe grilling habits. Renters insurance can help protect you from costs resulting from their negligence, too.

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