However, the combination of explosive fuels, hot metal, alcohol and children can be a recipe for disaster if those in charge of the barbecue aren’t alert and prepared.
Danger 1: Children and fire don’t mix!
Children are curious about barbecues. They want to see what’s sizzling and are especially keen to know when it's going to be ready to eat! They're drawn to the action - but each year about 1,000 people suffer injuries, such as burns, caused by barbecues.
Make sure the children know the person cooking needs to have plenty of space to cook safely. If children are playing near the barbecue this can result in collisions and burns - children don’t always look where they’re running.
Set up some games away from the barbecue. If you haven't got much space, go for a trip to the park whilst the food is cooking. This’ll give them a chance to work up an appetite before they come back and eat!
Danger 2: Barbecue set up
If you’re in a public area, make sure you’re setting up in a designated barbecue space – plenty of spaces in Herts prohibit barbecues. Nothing will ruin your barbecue like being asked to put it out in front of a crowd of people!
- Set up the barbecue on a flat site away from sheds, trees or plants.
- Never light a barbecue, even disposables, indoors or in a garage. All barbecues are designed for outside use.
- The charcoal should cover base of the barbecue about two inches (5cm) deep.
- Always check the manufacturer's instructions for lighting your barbecue, as models differ.
- If it's windy, ensure the wind is blowing away from you when you light the barbecue.
- Don't use any flammable accelerants, such as paraffin or petrol.
- Light the barbecue at arm’s length.
Danger 3: Whilst the barbecue is on
You've succesfully and safely lit the barbecue, so you decide open a celebratory beer. However, if you’re in charge of the barbecue, don’t drink too much. Your reactions will be slower, you’ll be clumsier and more likely to miss a hazard. You’ll also be more likely to ruin the food!
- Don't wear loose clothing, or anything could dangle onto the flames.
- Keep a bucket of water or sand nearby for emergencies
- Never leave the barbecue unattended and don't try to move it whilst it's lit.
4. After the barbecue
The guests are full, the marshmellows have been toasted, and you face the almighty job of clearing up. However, althought the barbecue is finished, the risk of fire remains.
- Don't put ashes straight into a dustbin or wheelie bin - if they are still even slightly hot, they'll melt the plastic and cause a fire. Try to empty the ashes into garden soil.
- Instead, allow it to cool for several hours and then pour water over it to make sure it’s out.
- Don’t try to move the barbecue until it has cooled down completely.