The spring and summer months are great for throwing barbecue parties and sitting around fire-pits as the sun goes down and stars come out.
But as the air heats up and the garden dries out, it only takes one small spark to start a blaze that could be hard to control.
Locked down, fires up
That certainly seems to have been the case during the coronavirus lockdown – UK fire-services have reported a surge in call outs and, here at Policy Expert, we’ve seen fire-related insurance claims double (Source: Policy Expert, internal claims data).
So, what are the best ways to stay fireproof and safe while having some delicious, flame-grilled fun?
- Rule number one – and possibly two and three as well – is always keep to hand sand, water and a fire-extinguisher, if you have one.
- Try and avoid using flammable liquids to get your barbecue going, especially something like petrol! The medical services see plenty of incidents each year where flames catch the person doing the lighting.
- One great way of improving safety is to build a designated barbecue area, made of brick or stone, preferably not on grass and away from trees, bushes or buildings.
- If you can, make sure your barbecue is on level ground. This should be well away from sheds, fences and garden furniture, as well as vegetation.
- Maintain a ‘people and pets free’ zone around the barbecue. It’s never a good idea to place it where people, and especially children, have to squeeze to get past. Also, try and persuade your kids – and pets! – to play games at a safe distance.
- With gas barbecues, it’s a good idea to regularly check the valves and pipes are clean and free from debris. Always make sure to turn the gas cylinder off after use.
- Check for gas leaks. This can be done by simply brushing soapy water over joints, knobs and connecting pipes then checking for bubbling.
Safety tips for fire-pits and chimeneas
- As with barbecues, rule number one for fire-pits, chimeneas and the like is to keep sand, water and even a fire extinguisher to hand.
- If you can, build your firepit on open earth, not grass or other vegetation. Also, if possible, edge it with stones – old building bricks are perfect.
- Remember to keep your eye on young children at all times – the sight of flames can make them a little over-excited, as any parent knows!
- It’s not a great idea to light up if it’s windy as it’s all too easy for sparks and small burning embers to get blown towards buildings or dry grass, bushes and trees.
- As with barbecues, it’s really dangerous to improve a blaze using some sort of lighter fuel. Flames can catch the stream of liquid and jump back up it.
- Check that the fire is fully out before leaving it.
General outdoor fire safety
- Always remember rule number one! Keep sand, water and, if possible, a fire extinguisher to hand.
- If you think your fire is getting out of control call the emergency services immediately. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Never leave a barbecue or fire-pit unattended. And remember to make sure nothing is still burning once you’ve finished.
Published 7th July 2020