At the first sign of warm weather, many folks head directly to their backyards to start that greatest of summertime traditions -- grilling. (Or, if you are like me, it never stops.) To ensure everyone can enjoy their backyard bistros unencumbered by unfortunate mishaps, below is a list of steps you can take to avoid being "over done:"

Make sure that your grill is serviced and cleaned annually, following manufacturers' instructions for care and use.

Leak-check all hoses and fittings on gas grill with a dish detergent-and-water solution. If any bubbling appears, have the grill serviced by a certified technician.

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Fact box

Whenever changing propane tanks, make sure all connections are tight.

When transporting propane tanks for refilling/exchange, they must be secured upright. An old milk crate works great to stabilize tanks for transport. Never transport in trunks.

Never leave a tank in the car while doing other errands ­-- full tanks sometimes will start to "off-gas" in the heat build-up inside a parked car.

Keep grills at least 3 feet from combustibles (i.e. your home).

Always dispose of ashes from charcoal grills in metal containers with tight lids.

Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids to start your charcoal -- only use approved charcoal lighter fluid. Once the charcoal is started, never add lighter fluid.

Never use a grill -- gas or charcoal -- indoors.

The New Canaan Fire Marshal's Office encourages safe summertime grilling. For further questions contact 594-3030.