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The Grill Drill

Old propane tanks can be dangerous, so trade them in for safer cookouts

If you have an old propane tank for your gas grill, it's time to trade it in for new model.

According to an article from CNN, the new models are designed to make a gas grill fire or explosion less likely, which makes cookouts safer. Every year, there are hundreds of gas grill accidents, particularly during the summer.

The new tanks have an "over-fill prevention device" that does exactly what it says -- makes it difficult to overfill the tank. If you're not sure whether you have an older tank or a newer one, you can check to see how many lobes or prongs the valve handle has. It if has three, it is a newer model. If it has five, it is an older model.

The new tank design follows a long list of safety improvements that were implemented in 1995. Those standards affected gas grills, hoses and connections. The improvements limit the gas flow if the hose breaks, provide for a shut-off switch if a grill overheats and include a device that shuts off the gas if the hose and grill are not properly connected. So, if your grill was made before 1995, it could be time to shop for a new grill.

If your equipment is up-to-date, there are other steps you can take to make your next cookout safer. Check your grill hose for cracks, holes or leaks. If any parts are damaged, have them repaired. Make sure gas hoses don't come in contact with hot surfaces or dripping grease. Propane tanks should be upright at all times. And don't store a full propane tank in your car trunk.

To find out more on how to keep your next cookout safe, you can read these tips from Fabulous Foods. Or check out the Arlington (VA) County Fire Department Web site.

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