The taste of a grilled hot dog or burger is hard to beat.

The taste of a grilled hot dog or burger is hard to beat.

Whether you are using propane, charcoal or electricity, grilling involves hot surfaces and, most of the time, flames.

The potential for serious burns and fires warrants caution and safety before, during and after your cookout.

Use charcoal lighter or fluid on coals only before you start the fire.

Never use gasoline to start or revive a fire. Gasoline in its liquid or vapor form can ignite and cause severe burns.

Keep damp or wet coals in a well-ventilated area. During the drying process, spontaneous combustion can occur in confined spaces.

If a bag of charcoal gets wet, leave it outside and away from the house.

Use grills where they will not tip over or ignite objects above them.

Do not use them on balconies or under awn-ings.

Over one third (33 percent) of all gas grill and charcoal grill home fires begin on an exterior balcony or porch.

Keep grills outside of tents and recreational vehicles.

Never use a grill in the home. The carbon monoxide produced by burning charcoal can be dangerous in an enclosed space.

Never leave a lighted grill unattended.

Have a container of water or garden hose ready to extinguish a fire.

Keep children away from fires and grills. They may try to climb on the grill to see what is cooking.

Although coals might appear cold, always soak them after cooking.

Carefully douse the coals with water, avoiding splashing and splatters form a garden hose and keep your body clear of steam and smoke.

If you use a grill fueled by liquid propane (LP), check all fuel line connections periodically for leaks by coating them with a solution of soap and water and watching for bubbles, an indicator of a leak.

Light LP-fueled gas grills according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Turn off burner valves and the supply valve on the gas cylinder or tank when the grill is not in use.

Never store an LP-fueled grill indoors.

Make sure you have long-handled grilling tools on hand to give the chef at your house plenty of clearance from heat and flames when flipping burgers.

If you need to treat a burn, cool it with cool, not cold, water immediately.

Cover the burn with a clean cloth and seek emergency help.

Washington Township Fire Department Fire Marshal Alan Perkins submitted the Smoke Signals column.