As summer begins, here are some safety reminders when using the grill or fire pit

Technology is a wonderful thing, even in the prehistoric activity of grilling your kill outside.

Today, you can stick a thermometer in your meat of choice, fire up the grill and go inside to watch the game, while an app on your phone tells you when your rib-eye is approaching perfect doneness.

It’s foolproof, right?

Not so fast.

There is a reason it’s a good idea to mind your grill when you’re cooking.

The National Fire Protection Association says gas grills are involved in more than 9,000 structure fires as well as outdoor fires per year.

The culprit often is cracked, clogged or leaky hoses transmitting propane or natural gas to your burners. Spiders love to nest in grills, and if you don’t inspect the lines at the beginning of the season you’re asking for trouble.

Camp I Am Me in Mount Prospect is a summer camp for kids who’ve suffered burns. The affiliate of the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance uses the camp to teach fire safety and prevent other kids from being hurt in fires. It advocates for kids who’ve suffered burns and helps them with the emotional scars.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission found that last year more than 6,000 people were burned by fire pits near homes.

The camp sent out a helpful news release this week with some salient tips for the summer, which begins this week.

Inspired by the camp’s advice, here are some tips for staying safe this summer:

• Make sure your grill is safe before you use it. If you smell gas from your grill but there is no flame, turn off the valve on the grill and the propane tank. If after a few minutes it persists, call 911.

• Keep your grill away from vinyl siding. It doesn’t take much to melt it or start it on fire.

• While chimineas aren’t as popular as they used to be, they’re essentially little blast furnaces that can burn wood or melt composite decking. Coals stay hot for a long time.

• Be prepared when you use an outdoor fire pit. The same rules apply to gas grills and gas fire pits. But if you’re burning wood, have a bucket of water or hose at the ready as well as a shovel and sand or dirt if things get out of hand.

• Keep flammable materials away from the fire, and do not pour gasoline or kerosene on a fire. Keep aerosol cans away. If you’re trying to control the bugs at the same time, resist the temptation to dump citronella oil on your fire. If you build a fire correctly, you don’t need accelerants. There are plenty of YouTube videos that can show you how.

• Keep any kind of fire at least 25 feet from your home, and don’t put one below your deck. It’s only a matter of time before it’s more than the logs that are on fire.

Next time you decide to build a fire, think about the poor kids who learned the hard way that fire is unpredictable and not to be trusted.

Let’s be careful out there.

The Daily Herald