BBQ FIRE SAFETY: Spending leisure time in the outdoor environment is a great way to relax in the fresh air.
But, it is easy to underestimate the unique fire risks increased by certain outdoor activities – such as barbecue grills.
This guide has specific advice about BBQ fire safety. There are some extra tips on the safety aspects of cooking food outside.
As a rule, a little common sense preparation is enough to ensure your BBQ is a safe and enjoyable experience. Following some basic BBQ fire safety reduces the risk of injury and damage to property.
The typical British summer barbecue should be safe and enjoyable for everyone. But, the risks of distraction can increase when people are around you while cooking. These are the simple fire safety precautions for barbecuing and grilling outside.
Barbecue Fire Safety Tips
- Check the barbecue is in good working order before you use it.
- Make sure the BBQ gets laid on a flat site. It should be clear of any trees, shrubs, or garden shed.
- Keep children, pets, and any garden games well away from the cooking site.
- Never leave a barbecue unattended once it is lit. UK Fire and Rescue Service recommend keeping a bucket of water or a container of sand nearby. This is their advice on the fire safety rules for emergencies.
- Do not attempt to move the barbecue until it has cooled down.
Cooking on Charcoal Barbecues
- Avoid using too much charcoal. It is best to cover the base up to a depth around 2 inches (50mm).
- Use recognised starter fuel or fire lighters sparingly and on cold coals (never use petrol).
- Do not put hot ashes straight into a plastic wheelie bin or dustbin. The burning ashes could melt the plastic and start a fire.
Cooking on Outdoor Gas Barbecues
- Ensure the gas tap gets turned off before changing the cylinder on a gas barbecue.
- Try to change a cylinder outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.
- Brush soapy water around the pipe joints and watch for bubbles if you suspect a gas leak to the cylinder or pipe work. Tighten to fix the leak – but avoid over tightening the joint.
- Turn off the gas cylinder after cooking. Do this before turning off any other controls. This will ensure any residual gas in the pipe work gets used up.
Caravan Fire Safety Advice
Most caravans are smaller than houses and they are more confined. That means the fire risks of caravanning can be more hazardous.
Installing a smoke alarm is part of the 10 fire safety rules and tips. They save lives by giving occupants an early warning of a fire along with these extra precautions:
- Always check the fire fighting arrangements on a caravan site.
- Never leave children unattended in a caravan. Become familiar with fire safety for kids and what makes them more vulnerable.
- Keep a fully charged water or dry powder fire extinguisher inside the caravan near to an exit door. Store a fire blanket next to the cooking area.
- Keep a battery torch handy for any emergencies (not candles). The candle fire safety tips explains why wax candles are dangerous.
- Show everyone how to operate any caravan escape windows and doors.
- As a rule, the best place for any gas cylinders is outside the caravan unless you can store them in a special ventilated compartment.
Fire Safety in the Countryside
Fire is the cause of some sort of destruction every year in the United Kingdom. It destroys thousands of acres of open countryside and wildlife habitat.
It is a sad fact that many of these fires get started on purpose. Even so, following a few basic precautions means we can prevent some countryside fires.
- Always dispose of any smoking materials appropriately. Be sure they are completely extinguished.
- Never leave camp fires or outdoor barbecues unattended. Extinguish them properly afterwards.
- Clear away all items made of glass. Bottles and broken glass gets magnified the rays of the sun which can start a fire.
- Educate children about the dangers of playing with lighted fires in the open countryside.
Note: Call the fire and rescue service immediately on 999 or 112 if a fire breaks out. Beware that grass and crop fires spread fast. Unless it is a very small fire it is best not to attempt fighting it yourself.
Give them some landmarks when you specify your location (e.g. a pub or a church). Stay close by to direct the fire appliances to the scene if you call them from a public phone box.
Fire Safe Camping and Cooking
People get injured from fires while camping and cooking every year. Follow these fire safety precautions and reduce the risk of getting burnt:
- Allow for a minimum of 6 metres (18 feet) space between tents.
- Never use candles inside or near to a tent. Use a torch instead.
- It is best to discourage smoking and avoid cooking in small size tents. Keep cookers and cooking equipment is stable and away from the tent entrance.
- Make sure everyone knows where the nearest telephone is and the nearest fire point for emergencies.
Fire Safety Open Fires
- Never build a fire on peaty soil or peat wetlands. Peat burns because it is partially decomposed plant matter.
- Build an open fire a distance from any tents. This is even more important in windy weather (at least 10 m).
- Clear away brush, grass, and leaves away from the area. Form a circle of earth around the site for the fire.
- Build the fire stack so it will collapse inwards when it burns. Never leave a fire unattended and beware of flying embers or sparks.
- In most cases there will not be any fire hydrants and dry risers in these areas. Be sure you have extinguished the fire before sleeping or leaving the area.