Top 10 Tips for BBQ Fire Safety 2020

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This article looks at the Top 10 Tips for BBQ Fire Safety 2020.

Whether you are in the garden or out camping, follow our simple tips for barbecue safety to help protect you, your guests and your home.

For all barbecues, no matter what type – charcoal, gas or disposable, and for how many people they are catering, by following these simple tips and precautions you can ensure you have an enjoyable experience and keep everyone present – and your home – safe from the threat of fire:

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Never use a faulty, defective BBQ

Make sure your barbecue is in good working order.

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Prepare well in advance and light the charcoal early

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Never use a BBQ – including disposables – indoors or on your balcony

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Never leave the BBQ unattended

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Be careful where you position your BBQ

We suggest on level ground, well away from anything flammable like sheds, fences, trees, shrubs or tents.

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Don't use petrol, paraffin or any flammable liquids on your BBQ

By far the biggest danger is the use of flammable liquids to light the barbecue – firelighters are a much safer option. 

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Carefully supervise children

Keep children, garden games and pets well away from the cooking area.

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Be pet-aware

Dogs (and some cats!) love to snaffle sausages and can cause accidents getting under your feet. To be really safe, keep pets indoors, or at least out of the immediate vicinity of the BBQ.

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Ensure the BBQ has completely cooled down before attempting to move it

And never throw hot ashes straight into a dustbin or wheelie bin – they could melt the plastic and cause a fire.

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Keep a bucket of water, sand or garden hose nearby

Keep a bucket of water, sand or garden hose nearby in case of emergencies and, if you have one, an appropriate fire extinguisher.

Depending on what type of barbecue you are using – charcoal, gas or disposable – there will be additional fire safety precautions you should consider…

Charcoal BBQ

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Experts recommend using enough charcoal to cover the base of your BBQ to a depth of about 50mm (2inches) - and no more.

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Use recognised fire lighters or starter fuel and only ever on cold coals - use the minimum necessary and never use petrol or paraffin to accelerate the BBQ.

Gas BBQ

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Before attempting to change a gas cylinder, always make sure the tap is turned off. If possible, always change the cylinder outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.

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Do not use the barbecue if you suspect a gas leak. If you suspect the cylinder or pipe may be leaking, brush it with soapy water and then watch closely for the appearance of any bubbles. You can try to tighten it to fix it, but be careful not to overtighten.

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After the BBQ, switch off the gas cylinder before turning off at the main control to make sure any residual gas in the pipe has been used.

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Ensure your gas barbecue is correctly serviced and make sure all joints are tightened, safe and secure.

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Store gas cylinders outside and protect from direct sunlight and frost. Do not store more cylinders than you need.

Disposable BBQ

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Study the user instructions carefully and follow them closely.

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Do not place your disposable BBQ on anything flammable - the foil base gets very hot – instead find a flat surface on bricks, paving slabs, concrete or a patio.

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Once you’re finished with your disposable BBQ, make sure it has cooled down completely before putting in the bin. It is recommended you leave it for several hours to cool and then pour water over it to ensure it’s definitely out.

Did you know?

BBQs can stay hot for hours, so be really careful about moving them. They also give off carbon monoxide fumes – levels high enough to result in CO poisoning, for several hours after they go out, so don’t bring them indoors with you.

To avoid hazardous CO exposures, fuel-burning equipment should never be used inside a tent, camper, or other enclosed shelter.

Please note that this article provides basic easy-to-understand guidance of fire safety provisions and the key fire safety information required to comply with legislation. Our articles are reviewed regularly. However, any changes made to standards or legislation following the review date will not have been considered. We aim to assist you to understand the fire-related terms within your Fire Risk Assessment.  It does not provide detailed technical guidance on all fire safety provisions, and you might require further advice or need to consult the full standards and legislation.

Fire Risk Consultancy Services have the knowledge and experience to assist your business to comply with all legal requirements surrounding fire safety including legislation. Be sure to read our accompanying guides: Fire Alarm System Types, Fire Extinguishers, Emergency Lighting, Fire Doors, Fire Safety Signs, also published on this site. 

Please take a moment to have a look around our website where you will find related articles and guides to all the services we can provide your business with, from providing Fire Risk Assessments, fire safety training, full advisory service to Articles on Fire Safety Provisions and our Top Fire Safety Tips!

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Charcoal grills can be put out simply by closing the lids and vents on your grill, cutting off all oxygen to the coals. It will then take up to 2 days for the coals to fully cool down, but this method of allowing it to rest is far safer than trying to use water to extinguish it.

NO, you can’t use your outdoor grill inside, even in your garage. Charcoal and gas grills produce large amounts of carbon monoxide and even small amounts can kill you.

Indoor grilling must be done on a grill or grill pan designed for indoor grilling.

If a grease fire starts:

Cover the flames with a metal lid.

Turn off the heat source.

If it’s small and manageable, pour baking soda or salt on it to smother the fire.

As a last resort, spray the fire with a Class B dry chemical fire extinguisher.

Do not try to extinguish the fire with water.

These bursts of intense flames are caused by oil or fat dripping off of food and hitting the coals, essentially causing a grease fire. They tend to occur soon after food is placed on the grill or once it’s been flipped.

In short, not really. Some people suggesting simply spraying or pouring water on to the coals to cool them down faster, but this is just too risky as the sudden temperature imbalance will risk cracking your BBQ chamber and any porcelain inside the grill (e.g. a lot of BBQ grates are porcelain coated).

Yes, waiting for up to 48 hours for it completely cool down is tedious, but it’s the safest way to make certain that both you and your grill are safe.