There’s nothing quite like gathering with friends and family for a good old-fashioned cook-out. You grill some meat, you share some beers and you enjoy the great outdoors together. There’s a quiet simplicity about it, which makes it both fun and relaxing.

Unless something goes wrong, that is. Grill fires are more common than you might expect. Each year, 7,000 Americans are injured by barbecues gone wrong. In today’s post, we provide essential safety tips for your backyard barbecue:

  • Clear space around and above the grill. Always grill outdoors. Make sure your grill is situated at least 10 feet from other buildings, and a safe distance away from other people or pets. Ensure there are no flammable objects on the ground near the grill or hanging above it–such as tree branches or hanging flower pots.
  • If you’re using a propane grill, check for leaks before each use. Rub liquid soap over all of the hoses and attachments. If you see any bubbles form, that’s a sign of a leak–and you should repair it before using the grill.
  • Always light a propane grill with the lid open. Lighting gas in an enclosed space can create a fire ball, which can erupt in your face when you open the cover.
  • Supervise the grill until it’s cold. Many grill fires start after the food is already cooked–when you and the guests are away, enjoying the fruits of your labor. If a hot grill comes into contact with something flammable, you need to be nearby in order to contain the fire before it gets out of control.

When you invite guests into your home, you have a legal responsibility to help ensure their safety. Following these guidelines can help keep your barbecue a happy affair.