How to avoid barbecue fires
It’s that time of year when households up and down the country are cracking out the sausages and burgers to sizzle on the barbecue. “This should be a happy, relaxing family occasion, but it’s important to remember that any activity involving fire can cause injury or even death” says Newington Green estate agent M&M Property.
Belgravia estate agent, Best Gapp – “Anyone who’s ever witnessed a fire will know how quickly they can take hold- within a matter of seconds it can go from a smoulder to an inferno, and being outdoors doesn’t mean you’re any safer”.
Here are a few tips to keep you and your loved ones out of harm’s reach when you barbecue this Summer and beyond.
Keep it well maintained
You probably keep your barbecue hidden away for at least half the year, so undertake some general maintenance checks before use. Things you’ll need to look out for are stability, any residue from flammable liquids, excess dust and general working order.
Put it somewhere sensible
If your barbecue is close to a shed, furniture or trees, you’re asking for trouble. Keep it on a flat surface with plenty of room for air to circulate and make sure there are no flammable items nearby.
Keep it away from children and pets
Most animals and kids know instinctively to be afraid of fire, but that doesn’t mean accidents can’t happen. Slips and trips are common in the garden, so make sure there’s no way that little people can land anywhere near the grill. And be careful when throwing balls for dogs!
Keep an eye on it at all times
You should never leave your barbecue unattended, even when the flame is very low or close to going out. Sparks and sudden gusts of winds can cause it to go up again, and if you’re not there to stop it things can get out of hand fast.
Have a bucket of water on hand
It’s always a good idea to have some water nearby when cooking with a barbecue. A ready filled bucket is great to have on standby, and if you’ve got a hose that’s even better. Sand also helps to put barbecue fires out fast.
Use the right kind of firelighters
Most garden centres and supermarkets stock firelighters for barbecues, so you should be able to get the fire going safely. Avoid strong lighter fluids and never use them on hot coals, only cold. And never, ever use petrol to start or stir up a barbecue!
Take care of the ashes
Hot ashes and cinders can easily start fires, especially if placed in a flammable environment like a wheelie bin. Wait for the ashes to thoroughly cool before disposal, which should take place in a metal bucket free from chemicals and away from combustible materials.
Remember gas safety
Gas barbecues can still be dangerous but for different reasons than the average charcoal version. When changing cylinders, always do so in a well ventilated area and make sure the tap is turned fully to “off” first. Turn it off straight after cooking and check regularly for leaks by gently rubbing soapy water over the surface and looking out for gas bubbles.
Call the fire brigade
The fire brigade are trained professionals who know exactly how to act in order to stop any fire and prevent further damage. They’ll usually arrive within a few minutes and will be able to make the area safe again more efficiently than the average person with a hose. Don’t be too embarrassed to call them out- it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Battersea estate agent, Eden Harper concludes, “Barbecues are great, but you always need to pay attention to health and safety. And remember to call 999 at the slightest sign of any fire getting out of hand.”
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