DES MOINES, Iowa — With spring now well underway, it’s quickly becoming grill season in Iowa. While grilling may be a national pastime for many, it can be dangerous if people do not take the proper safety precautions.

Firefighter Ahman Douglass with the Des Moines Fire Department said there are a few things everyone can do to minimize their risk while grilling.

He said people taking out the grill for the first time this year should do a full inspection. That means opening the grill and making sure the grates are in good shape, not rusted out, and no holes. They should then move on and check the fuel source. For a propane grill, check the propane tank as well as the cooking line that connects it to the grill. If that line has rust or corrosion, then the grill is not safe to use.

Douglass said once the grill is inspected, the griller should open the cover and put the grill in the light position. They should let it sit for five to 10 seconds allowing fumes to escape before hitting the ignite button.

Douglass added grillers should keep flammables away at all times and constantly watch their surroundings.

“Keep children, keep pets away from the grill surfaces,” he said. “They’re hot, they’re dangerous and we’re going to respond on quite a few injuries this year on just cooking alone and we don’t think you should be one of them.”

Douglass also said it’s a good idea to have a fire extinguisher or a hose nearby in case a fire on the grill starts to get out of hand.

He added it’s important people dispose of their grill’s ashes properly when they’re done. That means putting them in a metal container like an empty coffee canister. Do not put them in a plastic bucket or trash bag, which could case them to reignite.

In Polk County, it’s illegal for people to use a grill with an open flame, like a charcoal grill, on a deck or patio of a multi-family dwelling like an apartment or townhouse.

Douglass said while it’s legal to use one of those grills on a deck of a single-family home, it’s still dangerous and a bad idea.