Cooking on the barbecue this bank holiday? Advice from Fire and Rescue Service

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service want your barbecue to be a safe and enjoyable experience, but cooking over hot coals can be hazardous and it's easy to become distracted when you have family and friends around you whilst cooking.

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service would like to offer some safety tips to make sure that you have a safe and enjoyable time.

Top Tips
• check your barbecue is in good working order
• make sure your barbecue site is flat and away from fences, trees and sheds
• keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby, in case of emergencies
• use only enough charcoal to cover the base of the barbecue to a depth of about 5 centimetres (2 inches)
• never use petrol or paraffin to start, or revive, your barbecue – use only barbecue fire lighters or starter fuel on cold coals
• keep children and pets away from the cooking area
• don’t leave the barbecue unattended
• never put hot ashes straight into a dustbin or wheelie bin - they could melt the plastic and cause a fire
• if using a charcoal barbecue only use enough charcoal to cover the base to a depth of about 50mm (2 inches).

Gas Barbecues
• bottled gas barbecues need special care when being turned on and off
• make sure the tap is turned off before changing the gas cylinder
• change gas cylinders in the open air if possible, or open doors and windows to provide good ventilation
• if you suspect a leak to the cylinder or pipe work, brush soapy water around the joints and watch for bubbles - tighten to fix but do not over tighten
• after cooking, turn off the gas cylinder before turning off at the controls to ensure any residual gas in the pipe work is used up.

Storing Gas Cylinders
• do not store more spare gas cylinders than you need
• store gas cylinders outside and protect from frost and direct sunlight
• never store gas cylinders under the stairs of your home - if you are upstairs this is your means of escape from a fire.

Disposable Barbecues
• study the user instructions carefully and follow them closely
• only use in very well ventilated areas
• the foil base gets very hot, so never place on anything flammable
• leave to cool before moving – this may take several hours - consider pouring water or sand over it to make sure it's out
• do not place in a rubbish bin until it has cooled down.

Never use a barbecue indoors as the carbon monoxide that they produce can kill you. Carbon monoxide (CO) is difficult to detect because it is colourless and has no taste or smell. People often don’t realise that they are being overcome by fumes until it is too late.