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12 Top Tips for a Safer BBQ Bonanza

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BBQ season’s finally here! Make sure your food is the only thing flame grilled by following these top tips.

BBQ fireHave extinguishers at the ready

Before rushing out to buy an extinguisher for your BBQ, check that you’re buying the right one. If you’re using cooking fats or oils (please don’t!) you’ll need an extinguisher that is suited to class F fires. If you’re burning charcoal (yes!) any extinguisher made for class A fires will do. Class A fires burn using ordinary combustibles such as wood, charcoal and coal. It’s safe to use water, dry powder and ABC foam extinguishers on them.

Keep it safe with a bucket of sand

Don’t get excited – we aren’t suggesting you host a beach BBQ in your back garden. We just want you to fill a fire bucket with sand and leave it next to your BBQ. Then if there’s a fire, you can smother it with sand. You can also use your sand bucket as a bin for any lit material, splints or cigarettes. Drop the items into the bucket and mix them into the sand to prevent re-ignition.

Keep a fire blanket nearby

Fire blankets can be draped over a blaze to smother the flames. More importantly, though, they can be wrapped around people. If somebody’s hair or clothing catches fire, quickly wrap them in the blanket. Then – you know the drill – stop, drop and roll.

Position your BBQ properly

Set your BBQ up outdoors, on a flat surface, well away from sheds, trees, fences, garden waste or anything else flammable. This will prevent sparks and embers from setting fire to your garden furnishings. And if the BBQ itself lights up, it will be harder for the blaze to spread. It’s also important to keep children, pets and garden games well away from the BBQ.

Don’t cook when drunk

Have fun, but not too much fun. If you’re planning on having a beer or two…or three, just delegate the burger flipping to somebody sober before hitting the booze.

Never leave the BBQ unattended

You probably wouldn’t do that anyway with all the food at stake. But still, remember that fires are sneaky and have a tendency to become out of control quickly. If you need to pause to tuck into some grub – get somebody to fill in as Chef while you’re preoccupied.

Don’t move it ‘til it’s cool

Heat is one of the three elements of a fire. So to be safe, make sure your BBQ is cool before you try moving it. Oh – it’ll mean you won’t risk burning your fingers, too.

Take care when disposing of ash

The worst way to dispose of ash is by emptying it straight into a dustbin. If ash is still hot, it can set fire to the contents of your bin. You can get rid of ash by tipping it into buckets of sand or water, or even straight into your garden soil.

Use the right fuel

The safest fuel to use is by far charcoal. This is because there’s virtually no open flame involved. Also, charcoal is classed as an ordinary combustible – which can be extinguished with water. Avoid using flammable liquids, especially when lighting a fire. It’s tough to predict how much fluid you need – use too much and you could have a mini inferno on your hands.

If you have a gas BBQ…

If you have a gas BBQ extra care should be taken. Gas cylinders should be stored outdoors, out of direct sunlight. This will lessen the risk of explosions. When cooking:
  • Change gas cylinders outdoors
  • Make sure the gas tap is turned off before changing the cylinder
  • If you think there’s a leak turn the gas supply off
  • To check for gas leaks, brush soapy water onto joints and looking for bubbles
When you’ve finished cooking, turn the gas supply off before the barbecue control. This will help prevent gas leaks.

If you’re using a disposable fire

Never put a disposable BBQ directly onto grass. Make sure it is on a paving slab or another, non-flammable, flat surface. When you’ve finished cooking, don’t just throw it away. First, wait for the BBQ to cool for a few hours. You can then pour water onto it before throwing it into the bin.

Make sure there’s plenty of ventilation

BBQs cause carbon monoxide and smoke build ups. Never light a barbecue in an enclosed area – always set up outdoors, in a well-ventilated space. photo credit: sgatto via photopin cc
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