With summer finally upon us and lockdown restrictions continuing to ease across the UK, now is the perfect time to kick back and enjoy a BBQ in the garden with your family and friends. Or, better yet, get toasting marshmallows over the firepit.
But before you set the BBQ alight, it’s important to remember how quickly a garden party could turn into a danger zone where fires and lighter fluid are concerned – especially with kids and pets around.
To help keep your summer celebrations a happy and safe environment, here is a reminder of the main hazards and our top tips for outdoor fire safety:
Be mindful of the hazards
- Cooking around open flames could result in a nasty burn. Keep a safe distance from hot coals and BBQ flames
- Avoid loose clothing that could catch fire if left hanging near open flames
- Bin fires often start due to hot ashes and disposable barbecues being thrown away before they’ve cooled down
- Review your surroundings – tents, gazebos, fences and sheds can all catch fire if open flames from a BBQ are in close proximity, especially if there’s a breeze
- Although less frequent, house fires can also be caused by barbecues and fires placed too close to buildings
Outdoor fire safety tips
- When lighting a barbecue or firepit, avoid using highly flammable liquids such as paraffin, petrol or lighter fuel – firelighters are by far the safest choice
- Ensure young children are kept at a safe distance from any open flames and are always supervised by an adult. If you’re distracted by the cooking, you might not notice them pop up beside you to take a look at what you’re doing
- Pets – dogs in particular – are so easy to trip over, especially if they can smell food! It’s best to keep pets indoors or at least unable to reach cooking and fire areas
- Always position your barbecue on a flat surface and well away from buildings. Keep them away from fences and trees, bushes and other vegetation, especially if it’s very dry
- If it’s raining, don’t be tempted to cook or light firepits in temporary structures such as canvas tents or plastic gazebos, or even near the openings of them
- If you’re using a gas barbecue, make sure the gas cylinder is always turned off before changing it. Check for leaks by brushing soapy water on the gas pipe and watching carefully for bubbles
- Disposable barbecues should always be placed on non-flammable surfaces, such as bricks, concrete or patios, as the foil underside gets very hot
- Position firepits on hard, non-flammable surfaces such as patios and bricks. If you dig your fire pit in the ground, make sure there’s a fire-break area of soil around it
- Never leave a barbecue or firepit unattended
- Keep a bucket of sand or water on hand in case of emergencies. You might also want to consider purchasing a small at-home fire extinguisher
- Wait until your barbecue has completely cooled down and the ashes and remaining briquettes are cold before safely disposing of them
Relax and enjoy a sizzling summer
Getting your BBQ and firepit safety preparation right should help you to relax and worry less when cooking for family and friends outdoors – letting you focus on enjoying the outdoor events you host this summer.