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Barbecue, patio heater and fire pit safety

Someone using a BBQ

Barbecues (BBQs)

A barbecue is the centrepiece of the modern picnic with portable cooking being so simple to set up. Whatever type of barbecue you use it must be clean, in sound condition and in good working order for best results. 

Never light a barbecue, grill, patio heater or fire pit on a balcony in a block of flats. Watch a video on YouTube which explains the danger of fires on balconies

Keep to the following guidelines for a fun, relaxing and safe barbecue.

Where to put it

  • Choose a location on flat ground and well away from any sheds, fences, overhanging branches or flammable material
  • Do not place barbecues directly onto grass
  • Ensure barbecues are placed firmly on the ground so that they do not topple over (on portable barbecues peg the supporting legs firmly into the ground or weight them down)
  • Keep the area immediately surrounding the barbecue free of any obstructions
  • Protect from windy conditions
  • Ensure the children's play area is well away from the barbecue


How to light the charcoals

  • Position the barbecue where it will be used
  • Use only sufficient charcoal to cover the bottom to about two or three inches deep
  • Always use prescribed firelighters or starter fuel, and only on cold coals
  • Never add more fuel after the barbecue is lit
  • Allow enough time after lighting before cooking starts so the charcoals reach their best temperature and condition for cooking
  • Never use accelerants such as petrol to get barbecues going


Gas barbecues

  • Always follow manufacturers instructions including maintenance and servicing recommendations
  • Make sure the gas tap/valve is turned off before changing cylinders, which should be done in the open air, and away from ignition sources
  • After use the gas tap should be turned off before the barbecue to expel gas from the pipes
  • If you suspect any leaks from the cylinder of pipework, cease use immediately and do not use until repaired


General use

  • Never leave the barbecue unsupervised
  • One person should be responsible for the barbecue and cooking
  • Put other food and condiments etc on a separate table away from the barbecue
  • A small spray bottle of water will control the heat from the charcoals and minimise burning the food
  • Keep a small bucket of water handy but in a safe place to help with emergency first aid


The party spirit

  • Too much alcohol and fire do not mix. The person cooking should not be drinking alcohol
  • Limit the number of people around the barbecue
  • Be aware of young children - their head height places them at greater risk from cooking utensils and spitting fat
  • Keep fireworks well away from the barbecue in accordance with the Fireworks Code
  • Insect repellent and ornamental candles and lights should be fixed securely away from flammable sources
  • Consider your pets and your neighbours


After use

  • Empty cool ashes onto bare garden soil to let them get completely cold
  • Never put them directly into the dustbins or wheelie bins
  • Clean barbecue of all fat and grease deposits
  • Store any unused fuels in a secure place as per manufacturer's advice
  • Keep starter fluids separate from bags of charcoal and out of the reach of children
  • Ensure that gas operated barbecue equipment is serviced regularly to avoid problems and disappointment
  • Clear away and bag all rubbish


Patio heaters and fire pits

Please take care if using patio heaters or fire pits to provide extra warmth when socialising in your garden.

  • They must be kept away from flammable materials
  • Do not leave them unsupervised and keep pets and children well away
  • Use only in accordance with manufacturers' instructions

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