With the outdoor cooking season in full swing, now is a good time to review best practices for staying safe when barbecuing. Keep these tips in mind the next time you fire up the barbecue:

First things first – Inspect and clean your barbecue at least once a year. If you have propane cylinders check if it’s time for them to be inspected and re-certified or replaced.

Be prepared – Make sure you have a fire extinguisher and either baking soda, sand, or kosher salt on hand. In the case of a fire, use an extinguisher if it’s still burning after 30 seconds.

Choose the right spot – Keep your barbecue on level ground, at least 10 feet away from your house and combustible material, as well as away from wind. Never leave a flame unattended.

Food for thought – Don’t leave raw meat out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, and once cooked consume within an hour (or less) during hot weather, as it can grow harmful bacteria otherwise. Be sure to cover or chill your food, especially any dishes with egg or dairy, until it is ready to be served.

Check the temperature – Cook food thoroughly. Your safest bet is to use a food thermometer.

Be careful not to cross-contaminate – Use separate plates and cutting boards for raw meat than for the rest of your food. Also, do not reuse your marinade, and wash your hands after handling raw meat.

Watch out for tiny hands and paws – Be aware of children and pets around the grilling area.

Happy barbecuing!