Outdoor Living: Get a Jump on Safe Summer Fun

For homeowners with outdoor propane appliances, the wait is over! After a long, hard winter, warm weather and a return to outdoor living is finally here. Portable gas grillfire pits, patio heaters, and gas grills make outdoor living spaces comfortable gathering places again.
Getting these outdoor areas and appliances ready for early-season entertaining should top spring-cleaning to-do lists. A survey for America’s propane industry education and research council (PERC) reveals that two-thirds of homeowners are spending more time than ever in their outdoor living spaces, with more than half looking for new ways to extend the outdoor living season.
“Outdoor rooms are becoming one of the most important spaces in the house” says Greg Noll, executive director of the Propane Marketers Association of Kansas “Our surveys show that homeowners use these areas 15-20 times per month during the outdoor season. And with simple appliance updates and proper maintenance, people can get a head start on fun, safe, enjoyable outdoor time with family and friends.”
These tips will help ensure a fun, safe outdoor living season
Before bringing out portable appliances and firing up the propane grill, follow these tips from PERC to get the most from outdoor appliances safely:

• Keep burnable materials (dry grass, wood, or debris) at least 10 feet from propane tanks and cylinders. Never burn wood, coal, or anything other than propane in a propane fire pit.

• Never store tanks or cylinders inside buildings, including garages or sheds.

• Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the appliance you’re using, including where to put the unit, how to connect it to a cylinder, and how to use, clean, and store it. Fire pits and heaters need varying amounts of clearance, depending on the model. In general, allow at least three feet of clearance on all sides.

• Have your fire pit inspected by a professional every year.

• Before lighting your propane grill for the first time in the spring, check the cooking grid and warming rack to be sure both are in their proper place. Clean the grid, the interior of the grill, and the burner (according to the manufacturer’s instructions) with a wire brush or scraper to remove any built-up food. And remember — always keep the top open when lighting the grill until you are sure it is lit.

• If the igniter fails to light the grill after two or three tries, turn off the gas and replace the igniter according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

• When it’s time to refill or replace a propane cylinder, stow it upright in your vehicle in a well-ventilated area, not the trunk. Return home directly after refilling.

• Replace any tank that has holes, dents, rusted weak spots, cracks, or other damage, or is past its expiration date.