Fire service asks people using instant barbecues to make sure they ‘chill that grill’


Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service is reminding everyone to ‘chill that grill’ and make sure they take sensible precautions when using and disposing of instant barbecues. 

The recent hot weather and the prospect of more to come has seen more of us decide to cook and eat outdoors.  

But the dangers of not disposing of barbecues responsibly were highlighted recently when Newquay firefighters attended an incident where several disposable barbecues had been discarded whilst still hot. 

Since 2020, Cornwall’s firefighters have attended 59 call outs to fire related incidents involving barbecues of all kinds.    

Cornwall Fire and Rescue service Station Manager (Prevention) Scott Brown said: “It’s natural to want to go outdoors and enjoy the warmer weather with family and friends but if you’re using a disposable barbecue, you need to make sure it is cooled down after use and disposed of safely and considerately.” 

If you are planning a barbecue in a public place, ensure you are allowed to do so at that location 

  • Ensure that the barbecue is stable and level  
  • Keep a bucket of water or sand nearby for emergencies 
  • Do not dispose of the barbecue until completely extinguished and cold, using water or sand, as hot discarded barbecues can melt plastic bins and start fires 
  • Never bury a barbecue in the sand, this could cause serious injury 
  • Follow the Countryside  Code 
  • Never take a smouldering barbecue into a tent or indoors as it will give off Carbon Monoxide fumes. 

Scott said: “If you’ve planned a barbecue and the weather lets you down, don’t take the barbecue indoors or into a tent.  In recent years, some people have sadly succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning as a result.” 

Here are some top safety tips wherever you are having your barbecue –  

  • Never leave a barbecue unattended 
  • When having a barbecue, consider how the smoke will affect others 
  • If there is a wind blowing, make sure it is blowing away from you when you light the barbecue (just in case it flares up). 
  • Ensure that you are not wearing any loose clothing that could flap onto the lighted barbecue and catch fire 
  • Keep the barbecue well away from over hanging obstructions such as tree branches, and keep a safe distance from fences, garden sheds, tents and caravans. 
  • Do not use any flammable liquid other than recommended barbecue lighting fluid. Never use methylated spirits, paraffin or petrol. 
  • If you choose to use lighting fluid, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and do not spray onto a hot barbecue - it may blow up in your face! 
  • Preferably use fire lighters. When lighting the barbecue, do so at arm's length (rather like fireworks) and do not put your face over the range. 
  • Keep children away from the barbecue during and after cooking has finished, as it may still be hot.  Ensure matches and lighters are placed out of reach from children. 
  • Dispose of the charcoal safely after the barbecue has cooled completely.  Those using gas powered barbecues should check gas pipelines before use and ensure that the gas cylinder is connected correctly. 

Scott Brown said: “This may seem a long list and most of these things are common sense but unfortunately, sometimes common sense is in short supply.  One of the biggest dangers is the use of flammable liquids to light the barbecue.  There have been occasions where people have poured petrol onto the charcoal to get it going and the reaction has, not surprisingly, been violent and highly dangerous.  Prepare well in advance and light the charcoal early.   Most of all, enjoy yourself safely and considerately.” 

Story posted 03 August 2022

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