Firefighters issue barbecue safety reminder

Tue 30 Jun, 2015

Click here for details of a gas barbecue fire on Saturday 4 July 2015

Firefighters are urging people to take care with barbecues during the current hot weather and throughout the summer.

They have already been called out today to an unattended smouldering barbecue in the back garden of a house in Aylesbury. There was no-one in and a neighbour was concerned.

Richard Priest, head of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service's community safety team, said: “It's natural to want to make the most of the good weather by going outdoors for a barbecue with family and friends. However, there are a few things it's worth remembering to make sure you don't end up having to ring 999.

"By far the biggest danger is the use of flammable liquids to light the barbecue. There have been a number of occasions over the years where people have poured petrol on to the charcoal in an effort to get it going. The reaction has, not surprisingly, been violent and highly dangerous, and in some cases people have ended up in hospital.

"We all know how tempting it can be to give stubborn coals a helping hand, but please be patient and make sure you use the right tools for the job. Prepare well in advance and light the charcoal early. 

“If you have planned a barbecue and the weather lets you down, don’t take the barbecue indoors or into a tent. This can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be fatal, so we are urging everyone to take extra care this summer.

"Also, please remember that if you are intending to have the barbecue somewhere other than in your own garden, you need the permission of the person who owns or manages the land. There are a number of public areas where barbecues are not allowed.

“By following some simple rules, you can ensure your barbecue is a safe and enjoyable event. It's mainly just a matter of common sense.”

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service's top barbecue safety tips are:

  • Never use of flammable liquids to light the barbecue. Prepare well in advance, using enough charcoal to cover the base of the barbecue - normally around five centimetres.
  • Enjoy yourself, but don’t drink too much alcohol if you are in charge of the barbecue.
  • Make sure your barbecue is well away from sheds, fences, trees, shrubs and garden waste.
  • Keep children, pets and garden games away from the cooking area.
  • Follow the safety instructions provided with disposable barbecues.
  • Never use a barbecue indoors.
  • Never leave a barbecue unattended.
  • After cooking, make sure the barbecue is cool before moving it.
  • When they are cold, empty ashes on to bare garden soil, not into dustbins or wheelie bins.
  • Always keep a bucket of water, sand or a garden hose nearby for emergencies.

Additional safety tips if you have a gas barbecue:

  • Never store gas cylinders under the stairs. If there is a fire they might explode and block your escape route.
  • Store gas cylinders outside, away from direct sunlight and frost.
  • Take care when turning bottled gas barbecues on and off.
  • Make sure the tap is turned off before changing the gas cylinder.
  • After cooking, turn the gas supply off first and then the barbecue control. This will stop any gas from leaking.
  • If you suspect a leak, turn off the gas cylinder and try brushing soapy water around all joints, watching for bubbles.
  • Make sure all joints are tightened, safe and secure.
  • Change gas cylinders outdoors or in a well ventilated area