The unofficial start of summer is finally here! Now, it's time to dust off the grill and enjoy a delicious outdoor meal with family and friends to kick off a season of barbecues!

With more of us grilling and cooking outside than ever before, it's a good idea to keep in mind that a fun barbecue should always be a safe barbecue.

Here are some important BBQ safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association.

1.  Propane and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors. This also means not to barbecue in your garage. Outdoors, folks!

2.  Keep all grills away from your home, deck railings and overhanging branches. The last thing you would want is for your house or deck to catch on fire.

3. Clean your grill regularly. Remove all grease or fat buildup. Keep the trays below free from grease. It may be a good idea to clean your grill every couple of weeks depending on how much you use them.

4. Keep all pets and children away from grill. My dog loves to sniff around the grill every single time we use it. I'm constantly yelling at her to get away from the grill.

5. Never walk away from the grill and leave it unattended. This could be a really bad idea especially if you go in the house and you forget that the grill is going at full blast.

 6. If you smell gas while you're cooking, turn off the gas tank and burners. If you still smell  gas, get away from the grill and call the fire department.

7. If you have a brand new grill make sure you read the owners manual before you use it.

8.  You should be prepared to put out any type of fire. Use baking soda to put out a grease fire. Keep a fire extinguisher handy. It may also be a good idea to have a garden hose nearby just in case you don't have a fire extinguisher.

Here's to a safe summer of barbecues and grilling!

Sources: NFPA.org, HBPA.org

Sign up for the WPG Talk Radio 104.1 Newsletter

Get South Jersey news and information e-mailed to you every week.