Andy Martin, Area Community Safety Officer, explains: “The Fire Service get called to a number of fires each year started when BBQ’s get out of control and sets light to plants, fences or sheds. To avoid injuries or damage to property follow the following simple precautions. Never leave a BBQ unattended and ensure the BBQ is used on a flat surface, well away from fences, sheds, trees or shrubs. Never cook if you have been drinking alcohol and keep children, garden games and pets well away from the cooking area. Keep a bucket of water or sand nearby for emergencies and always ensure the BBQ is cold before attempting to move it.
“If you use disposable barbecues make sure they are placed on a solid, fireproof and even surface, such as bricks or paving slabs. Don’t place directly onto wooden decking! Use disposable BBQs well away from the house, sheds, fences, benches and wooden play equipment.
“After using a disposable BBQ ensure it has cooled before putting it in the bin. To avoid starting a fire you should allow it to cool for several hours and then pour water over the ash to make sure it's out.”
When using a charcoal BBQ only use enough charcoal to cover the base to a depth of about 50mm (2 inches) and only use proper fire lighters or starter fuel on cold coals - use the minimum necessary and never use petrol, paraffin or lighter fuel. Never put firelighters or liquid fuels on to a lit BBQ.
If you use a gas BBQ, in addition to the risks set out above (like keeping it away from flammable materials) there are several extra risks to guard against. Make sure the gas tap is turned off before changing cylinder. Change cylinders outdoors, or in a well ventilated area. If you suspect a leak to the cylinder or hose, brush soapy water around the joints and watch for bubbles – tighten as required to seal, but do not over-tighten. After cooking, turn off the gas at the cylinder before turning off at the controls, to ensure any residual gas in the hose is used up.
All BBQs produce carbon monoxide (CO), an invisible odourless gas that can be deadly. Never use any fuel-burning devices (e.g. barbecues, camping stoves, camping heaters, lanterns, and charcoal grills) inside a tent, Caravan, your home or other building as this will cause a build-up of deadly CO gas leading to poisoning. BBQs still give off CO gas and fumes for hours after you have used them at levels high enough to result in CO poisoning. Also, when using fuel-burning devices outdoors, the exhaust should not vent into enclosed shelters.
Andy Martin adds, “By far the biggest danger is the use of flammable liquids to light the barbecue. The Service have responded to a couple of incidents where people have poured petrol onto the charcoal in an effort to get it going and the reaction has, not surprisingly, been violent and highly dangerous. Fire Service advice is to prepare your BBQ well in advance and light the charcoal early so it has time to warm up to cooking temperature. Remember you are looking for hot (white) coals and not flickering flames. Don’t forget to thoroughly cook your food through to avoid food poisoning.”
Please follow this guidance and enjoy your summer safely.