We all have a similar thought once the last signs of winter disappear and the weather finally warms: barbecue. But as the weather warms and families begin firing up their grills, the number of grill-related accidents increases. Gas grills seem to be more problematic than charcoal grills, but no matter what type of grill you’re using you can always practice safety. Here are a few ways to keep yourself and your family safe throughout grilling season.

Grill Away From Nearby Structures: Most of us like to keep our grill just outside a door because it makes for quick and easy access. Consider, however, that more than a quarter of home fires started by an outdoor grill began on a patio or in a terrace or courtyard. Another portion started on an exterior balcony or porch. Therefore, the most convenient location for your grill may not be the safest, so always consider safer alternatives.

Check Your Grill: Grills, just like us, can age. Especially susceptible to the elements of the outdoors, grills have been known to rust or otherwise deteriorate. Prior to firing up your grill for the season, be sure to inspect it for signs of wear and tear. Be sure that it won’t tip over if someone accidentally bumps into it. Also, pay special attention to the gas hose on gas grills so that the risk of gas leaks is reduced.

Keep it Clean: Cleaning up your grill can be a pain. Nonetheless, keeping your grill free of grease, spent charcoal, and fat buildup can help prevent problems. Allow your grill to cool completely after using it, then be sure to give it a good cleaning. Always empty out the tray beneath the rack with every use.

Stay Alert: Small children and pets can be curious. If anyone besides yourself is outside during the time that you’re grilling, be sure to keep an eye on things. Additionally, you should keep all children and pets away from the grill for at least one hour after you’ve finished using it.

Wear the Right Clothes: Warm weather can be a time of loose-fitting clothing. Before you grill, be sure you’re not wearing anything that could easily catch fire. Pay special attention to rolled-up sleeves and any apron strings that could easily dangle over the flames.

Be Ready to Put the Fire Out: In case of a grill fire, you should always be prepared to put it out. Grease fires can be controlled by baking soda or a nearby fire extinguisher. Water should never be used to put out a grease fire, as it will only cause the flames to spread and grow.

Grilling in warmer weather is always cause for celebration. As long as you remain aware of your surroundings and are properly prepared for an emergency, you should enjoy grilling season for as long as it lasts.