Grilling has always been popular, and with nicer weather on the way, more and more people will be cooking outdoors. Remember to play it safe when grilling.

More than half of grill fires have two causes: a leak or break in equipment or the grill is too close to something that burns.

When you get your grill out for the first time, open and check for animals or insects that got inside. Next you want to clean it. That includes the grates and burners.

If you are using a propane grill, check the gas tank for leaks by applying light soap and water to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If any repairs are needed, make sure it is by a professional.

When using your grill for the first time of the season, turn it on high and let it go for about 10 minutes so it can burn off any residue.

When positioning your grill, leave enough room so it is at least 10 feet from any combustible construction. Make sure it is stable so it will not easily tip over.

Barbecue grills are designed for outdoor use only. If you use them in an enclosed area, carbon monoxide could accumulate and kill you.

Always supervise a grill when in use; that means keep children and pets at least three feet from the grill.

With charcoal grills, only use starter fluids meant for barbecue grills. Never, ever use gasoline, and do not add fluid after coals have been lit. Keep the charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.

Long-handled utensils will help avoid burns. Watch out for long shirttails, apron strings, or long, loose sleeves that could catch on fire. Use flame-retardant oven mitts.

When you are finished grilling, let the coals cool completely before disposing of them in a metal container. Never attempt to move a hot grill.

Keep your grill clean by removing grease buildup.

If you do not have a fire extinguisher handy, keep a bucket of sand or a garden hose close by in case fire flares up.

Grilling is one of the most popular ways to cook in the spring and summer, so keep it safe.

Cinda Seamon is the fire and life safety educator for the Town of Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue.