Burgers, bangers and burns – make sure your barbecue is not a recipe for disaster

BarbecueAvon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) is reminding people planning barbecues during the warmer weather to make sure their burgers and bangers don’t lead to burns.

Between April 2013 and March 2014 AF&RS received 42 calls from members of the public who were concerned about barbecues which had got out of control or where hot disposable barbecues had caused bin fires.

As hundreds of families plan outdoor activities AF&RS is asking people to enjoy the weather safely.

AF&RS Station Manager for Community Safety, Martyn Bolt, said: “Cooking food outside can be a great way to enjoy the warm weather but it is vital that everyone using a barbecue does so safely. Barbecues can be very volatile and quickly get out of control.

“Just a few simple steps, like never leaving the barbecue unattended and keeping it well away from shrubs and fencing, can help to ensure a happy event doesn’t turn to tragedy. Many injuries caused by barbecues happen because inappropriate lighting methods such as paraffin and petrol have been used. Only recognised lighters and starter fuels should be used.

“When using disposable barbecues make sure they are disposed of properly when cool and not placed in a bin while still hot. If using a gas barbecue don’t throw water on to it if it gets out of control as the fat and oil could ignite and cause severe burns.”

Safety tips:

  • Follow the safety instructions provided with disposable barbecues.
  • Never use a barbecue indoors, in a tent or in a poorly ventilated area as you could be affected by carbon monoxide fumes.
  • Never leave a barbecue unattended.
  • Make sure your barbecue is well away from sheds, fences, trees, shrubs or garden waste.
  • Use enough charcoal to cover the base of the barbecue, but not more (normally around five centimetres or two inches).
  • Keep children, pets and garden games away from the cooking area.
  • After cooking, make sure the barbecue is cool before moving it.
  • Empty ashes onto bare garden soil, not into dustbins or wheelie bins. If they're hot, they can melt the plastic and cause a fire.
  • Enjoy yourself, but don't drink too much alcohol if you are in charge of the barbecue.
  • Never use petrol or paraffin to start or revive your barbecue; use only recognised lighters or starter fuels.

Gas barbecues

  • Never store gas cylinders in the home.
  • 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 in a well-ventilated area.

Station Manager Bolt said: “If you do have a barbecue which gets out of control, don’t try to tackle it yourself as you risk getting burnt or scalded. Dial 999 and ask for the fire and rescue service.”

To find out what happened to a man whose barbecue got out of control, leaving him needing hospital treatment for burns and view the safety advice click here