As summer begins, here are some safety tips from the Fort Belvoir Fire & Emergency Services’ Community Risk Reduction Branch to keep in mind, when planning a barbecue.

Never leave a lit or hot grill unsupervised and always make sure an adult is overseeing the grill, while preventing children and animals from getting too close to the hot surfaces.

Clean your grill, especially if you are using it for the first time this season. Clean out debris, remove grease and check the propane fuel lines and put the grill away from structures, trees and high-traffic walkways.

Once those tasks are completed, Philip Neith, Belvoir fire protection specialist, recommends the following:

“Open the lid of the grill first, turn on the gas next and use the igniter to prevent a buildup of gas,” Neith said. “If your igniter doesn’t work, wait until the gas dissipates before trying to ignite with a different device.

In addition, keep a fire extinguisher close for flare-ups or fires and be able to cut off the propane fuel lines.

If you are cooking on a deck or balcony, make sure you comply with local laws, by checking with your local fire department.

“The summer produces over more than 50% of structure fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association,” Neith said. “There is also an increase of grill-related injuries, including contact from direct flames and hot objects, especially for children under 5.”

For more information, contact the Fort Belvoir Fire & Emergency Services’ Community Risk Reduction Branch, 703-805-2091.