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Make sure you're grilling safely this holiday weekend

Labor Day weekend is a good time to break out the grill, but there are some things to check before you cook out.

INDIANAPOLIS — The last holiday weekend of summer is upon us, which means another chance to break out the grill.

Whether your grill of choice is gas or charcoal, Pat Sullivan from Sullivan Hardware and Garden shares tips on how to do your outdoor cooking safely.

If propane is your fuel of choice, make sure you've got enough gas left in the tank. An empty propane tank weighs 18 pounds. Filled, it will weigh 38 pounds. Step on the bathroom scale with your tank to see how much propane is left. 

This is also important before going back to fill or exchange the tank. Turning in a half-full propane tank is giving away money.

Cleaning your grill will not only keep it in good shape and improve the taste of your food, but an improperly cleaned grill can become a fire hazard. Sullivan advises skipping the wire-bristle brushes to scrub your grill grates, as the bristles can become dislodged and stick in food. Instead, use a non-bristle brush and a wooden scraper to get burned food off. 

Also be sure to clean the pan beneath the grates, where most fires really flare up.

RELATED: Pat Sullivan: Grilling maintenance and safety

Consider a food thermometer to keep an eye on the internal temperature of your food and never use the same plate you use to carry raw meat to hold food after it comes off the grill.

If you're cooking on a charcoal grill, make sure your grill's legs are sturdy and in good shape before loading the grill. If they're rusted out, they can become unstable and collapse once weight is added.

To start a charcoal grill, Sullivan says you should skip the lighter fluid and instead invest in a "chimney" to stack the charcoal in, light it and then put in the grill when it's hot.

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