BBQ Safety means enjoying your outdoor feast without endangering yourself, others or the environment.
It's been a long hot summer, ideal weather for going to the beach, walking in the countryside, exploring woods and of course eating outside.
Once a meal out was a picnic, now with lightweight portable & disposable BBQs it has never been easier to light up and cook up some succulent tasty food while out enjoying fun in the sun.
The downside is it has never been easier to start a fire and with a long hot dry summer, one small mistake can cause anything from setting fire to the lawn in your own garden to the kind of wildfire disasters we've seen on TV.
Dont leave this behind
Our 5 Top BBQ safety tips are
- Never use a faulty BBQ: Using a faulty or defective BBQ can cause accidents and endanger life. A new BBQ can be got from B&Q for as little as £20, and a disposable one costs £3.50. See B&Q BBQs here.
- Preferably Use a Portable Gas BBQ: There are many small portable lightweight models which use small cylinders. Using these mean there are no hot coals to dispose of and no hot ashes or cinders to blow around. Improper disposal of used BBQs is a major source of accidental fires. We recommend the CharBroil X200 portable grill
- Never leave your BBQ unattended: You are using an open fire and no matter how in control you may feel it can always act unexpectedly, you need to guard it against accident and be prepared to deal with any mishaps
- Do not light your BBQ on grass or where combustible materials are: If you're at the seaside then use a firm-level area on the sand or a level area of rock or stone.
If your out in the country use a designated BBQ area or stay in a safe part of the car park away from the cars as long as its gravel, concrete or another non flammable surface. Do not set up a BBQ in grassed car parks. Do not light your BBQ under trees, the hot gases rising upwards can ignite dry leaves and set the tree on fire.
- Always douse hot coals: If Charcoal grilling always make sure you have completely doused your hot coals and ashes (see our charcoal grill safety tips further down the page for how to do this). Never leave a disposable BBQ behind thinking it will cool down on its own.
The ideal summer - BBQ on the beach
BBQ safety tips for all BBQs.
- Never use a BBQ – including disposables – indoors or on your balcony. Large stone floored verandas yes, small patios and balconies no. Never use a disposable BBQ in an indoor fireplace or hearth.
- Be careful where you position your BBQ - use on level ground, well away from anything flammable like sheds, fences, trees or tents.
- Do not prop up the legs of a BBQ on loose stones to level it. If you don't have adjustable legs and have difficulty finding level ground use stable flat non - combustible objects to prop it up and test the stability before using it.
- Never use a BBQ over a flammable surface such as decking or wooden floors. If outside do not use over dried grass or ground containing peat or coal.
- Keep the children away - little ones can trip and fall, or trip you up. Older children might hurt themselves trying to help. Get them playing games away from the BBQ and take the food to them, do not let them remove food from the BBQ grill themselves.
- Keep that dog away! They know foods been readied and will nose around looking for tidbits or a quick snaffle. To avoid tripping over your dog or them knocking over the BBQ. keep them indoors if BBQing at home or tethered away from the BBQ if outdoors. Remember that even if you think they are off safely playing with the children a dog can sneak back without you knowing so a tether is the safest option
BBQ safety tips for gas BBQs.
- Make sure the tap is turned off before changing the gas cylinder
- Change cylinders outdoors if possible or in a well-ventilated area
- If you suspect a leak to the cylinder or pipework, brush soapy water around the joints and watch for bubbles – tighten to fix but do not overtighten
- After cooking, turn off the gas cylinder before turning off at the controls to ensure any residual gas in the pipework is used up.
- Use only enough charcoal to cover the base to a depth of about 50mm (2 inches)
- Only use recognized fire lighters or starter fuel and only on cold coals – use the minimum necessary and never use petrol, kerosene (Paraffin) lighter fuel, white spirits, alcohol or any flammable liquid.
- Never put hot ashes straight into a dustbin or wheelie bin – they could melt the plastic and cause a fire.
- Never Throw hot ashes away into grass, bushes etc... or tip them onto the ground they can set grass, bushes etc.. on fire
- Never bury hot ashes, they stay hot and can cause underground fires.
- Never tip hot ashes onto tarmac surfaces, they can melt it.
- Leave the BBQ to cool down for as long as possible then spray the remaining coals and ashes gently with cold water until the coals stop steaming. Scrape the cooled coals into a bucket of water leaving them immersed as long as possible to make sure they are completely cold, drain and bag the cold ashes before disposing of them responsibly.
What to do if Fire Breaks out
If despite your safety precautions you accidentally start a fire.
Unless it is a very small fire never attempt to fight it yourself, fires can grow extremely quickly.
In the countryside
- Move a safe distance away from the fire ensuring that the wind is not blowing in your direction, Crop and grass fires can spread very quickly
- Do not stand uphill of the fire, fire travels faster uphill and slower downhill. The steeper the hill the faster it will climb it.
- Call the fire brigade, be as specific about the location as possible note any landmarks, features or buildings.
- While continually making sure of your own safety observe the fire so if needed you can guide the appliances to it.
- Be honest about the cause, if you have made a mistake tell them what happened, anyone can have an accident and the fire brigade need to know exactly what they are dealing with.
Get to safety and call 999
- Immediately evacuate everyone to a safe area.
- Call the fire brigade. If you are using a gas BBQ notify them that a gas cylinder may be at risk.
- If possible to safely do, so turn off the gas and electric supplies to your home
For safety advice on using portable home heaters take a look at our Portable Heater safety post.