Lighter, warmer evenings, holidays coming up, and bags of charcoal appearing at supermarket entrances can mean only one thing – the barbecue season will soon be upon us.
These social events are a great way to share leisure time with friends and family, but they have their own unique set of fire risks that can be guarded against by applying some common sense before lighting the charcoal, according to the UK Fire Service Resources organisation.
It’s easy for the chef to be distracted by what’s going on around them and the ease of distraction can be made worse by the combined effects of sunshine and alcohol consumption.
Fire service experts advise:
• Making sure your barbecue is in good working order
• Putting it on a flat site, well away from sheds, fences, trees and shrubs, and where there’s a flat surface to stand on whilst cooking
• Keeping children, garden games and pets well away from the cooking area
• Never leaving the barbecue unattended
• Keeping a bucket of water or sand nearby. A fire blanket is a good alternative,
• Leaving the barbecue to cool thoroughly before attempting to move it
If you have a charcoal barbecue, there’s no need for more charcoal than will cover the base to a depth of about two inches. Lighting it requires patience and recognised firelighters or starter fuel. Petrol shouldn’t be used, and on no account should fuel be added to coals once they’re hot – bearing in mind that hot charcoal doesn’t necessarily look hot.
Gas barbecue users need to follow a few simple tips as well:
• Make sure the tap is turned off before changing the cylinder
• Change cylinders outdoors if possible or in a well ventilated area.
• If you suspect a leak to the cylinder or pipe work, brush soapy water around the joints and watch for bubbles – tighten to fix but do not over tighten.
• After cooking, turn off the gas cylinder before turning off at the controls to ensure any residual gas in the pipe is used up.