Even in the Houston heat, barbecuing is a popular way to enjoy family dinners and neighborhood or family get-togethers. Page ContentBut no matter how strong the thrill of the grill is in your household, it’s important to remember the basics of safe food handling, grilling and backyard entertaining. With that in mind, we’ve gathered some of the most important tips from a variety of great sources to help keep you and your family safe.Some reminders from the U.S.D.A.'s Food Safety and Inspection Service:When shopping for raw meat or poultry, purchase them last, place the packages in plastic bags to avoid contamination from juices with other foods and plan to go directly home from the grocery store. Refrigerate within one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees.Be careful with meat marinades. Marinate in the refrigerator, not on the kitchen counter. If the marinade is to be used as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve some in a separate container. If you’re going to reuse marinade that has been used on raw meat or poultry, bring it to the boil before applying it to the meat.When grilling, don’t use the same plate for raw meat and cooked meat. Transfer cooked meat to a clean platter.From the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:On gas grills, check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, leaks and sharp bends in hose or tubing.Always keep gas containers upright.Never store a spare gas container under or near the grill, indoors, or in the hot car or car trunk.Never burn charcoal inside of homes, vehicles, tents or campers.Charcoal should never be used indoors.From the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals come these suggestions for pets and picnics:For your protection, and theirs too, try to keep pets inside when you’re barbequing and entertaining outside.Remember to keep your pet away from matches, citronella candles and lighter fluids. Not only can ingesting these make them sick, pets should not be around open flames.If you suspect your pet has been poisoned by eating something from the picnic table, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Center (APCC) at 888-426-4435.