Barbecues can be lethal - even after use

Thu 1 Aug, 2013


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Roland's story: Roland Wessling lost his partner Hazel Williams when she was overcome by carbon monoxide fumes. The couple took their barbecue, which was cold and no longer smoking, into their tent without realising it was emitting deadly carbon monoxide. Read Roland’s story here.

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service is supporting a national campaign to raise awareness of the fact that a barbecue can give off lethal fumes – even several hours after use.

In the past year, seven holidaymakers in the UK have died from carbon monoxide poisoning and 17 have been injured after bringing barbecues inside tents, caravans and motorhomes.

Station Manager Roy Hocking, said: “Barbecues produce carbon monoxide, which is a highly poisonous substance.

“It is created when fossil fuels such as gas and solid fuels like charcoal and wood fail to combust fully due to a lack of oxygen. You can’t see it, taste it or smell it, but it can kill quickly with no warning.

“These tragic deaths and injuries happened after people took barbecues into enclosed spaces after they’d finished cooking on them. They were overcome by carbon monoxide because there was not enough fresh air.

“If you’re planning on using a barbecue, whether it’s a disposable one, gas or charcoal, don’t put yourself at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.”

Roy is urging people to follow this advice from the Gas Safe Register:

  • Never take a smouldering or lit barbecue into a tent, caravan, motorhome or other enclosed space. Even if you have finished cooking, your barbecue should remain outside as it will continue to give off fumes for several hours.
  • Never use a barbecue inside to keep you warm.
  • Never leave a lit barbecue unattended or while sleeping.
  • When camping, place your cooking area well away from your tent. Always ensure there is an adequate supply of fresh air in the area where the barbecue is being used.
  • Only use your barbecue in accordance with the operating instructions.
  • Remember the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning – headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness. If concerned, seek medical advice.

If you’re using a gas barbecue or gas camping equipment, follow these extra tips to help you stay safe:

  • Check that the appliance is in good order, undamaged and that hoses are properly attached and undamaged. If in doubt, get the hoses replaced or don’t use it.
  • Make sure the gas taps are turned off before changing the gas cylinder. and do it in the open air.
  • Don’t over-tighten joints.
  • When you have finished cooking, turn off the gas cylinder before you turn off the barbecue controls – this means any gas in the pipeline will be used up.
  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions about how to check for gas escapes from hoses or pipework.
  • Never take a gas stove, light or heater into a tent, caravan or cabin.