It's that time of year again! The time when we dust off our grills and put them to good use. It's important to remember that a grill is basically an outdoor stove top and we need to be sure they are at their best--and we are at our safest.
Clean It Up - Not only right before the grilling season starts but also after every use, it's important to clean the grill. Remove the grates while they are cool and loosen any hard bits, then using a grease removing dish soap suds them up and rinse them really well. If it hasn't been cleaned for a while, it's okay to soak the grates for a bit too. Just be sure to rinse them well when you are done scrubbing them. Also, you will want to replace any rock or other grates or burners that may have a lot of buildup on them and wipe out that part of the grill as well. It won't hurt to give the outside and side areas a scrub too.
Protect It - When not in use, use a grill cover on your grill. Just be sure to only put it on when the grill is completely cooled and cleaned. Also, when it's not grilling season it might be a good idea to move the grill to a shed or garage if you can to really protect it from the elements.
Play It Safe - You might think it goes without saying to be safe, but, it's important to keep in mind your grill is an outdoor cooking appliance and should be treated as such. Even when your stove is off in the house, you don't let your children play around it so that they can be sure to be safe. A grill may not have any walls around it protecting it from kids or their toys flying through the air, so they need to be taught to STAY AWAY. Also, you need to be careful, if it is a gas grill, to be sure burner areas are kept debris free and that connections to the gas tank are well sealed. Read your instructions from your grill about any other hazards there may be with your particular model, too. Also, with a charcoal grill, be careful how you light it. Using a huge amount of lighter fluid can cause a huge fireball and can hurt someone when they are lighting the grill. Keep the grill away from the home and never leave the grill unattended. Wind or other things outdoors can cause issues at times that you might not expect and if no one is watching, you could end up having a dangerous fire to deal with.
All in all enjoy your grilling time outside. Just respect your grill and keep it clean and safe and it should last you for seasons to come!