“Start the summer off right,” said State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan. “This is the perfect time of year to inspect your gas grill for leaks and cracks, and to teach children to stay 3 feet away from any grill in use. Two-thirds of all grill fires happen between May and September, when we are most likely to barbecue outdoors,” he added.

“Check to make sure all the connections are tight and secure before firing up the gas grill for the first time this season,” said Coan. He suggested checking for and replacing any cracked hoses.

Safety tips

* Propane and charcoal 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 grills and in trays below the grill.

* Never leave your grill unattended.

* If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the Fire Department. Do not move the grill.

Liquid propane grills

Liquid propane (LP) cylinders are not permitted inside homes or on balconies above the first floor of any building where people live. Coan said, “A leaky grill could pose a hazard to people below because LP gas is heavier than air and sinks. A car or someone smoking a cigarette below could ignite the fumes, or the vapors could enter the building through a door, window or dryer vent and find a pilot light, an air conditioner, or a compressor as an ignition source.”

Use 10 feet away from buildings

Coan added: “You must keep LP-gas tanks upright, 5 feet away from building openings and ignition sources such as doors, window, dryer vents, air-intake vents, pilot lights and appliance compressors. It is even safer to keep and use gas grills 10 feet away from the house.” All LP-gas cylinders between 4 and 40 pounds must be equipped with an overfill protection device.

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. Once the coals have been lit, never add starter fluid to the fire — flames may travel up the stream resulting in serious burns.

* 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 safe for outdoor use.

* When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.