Firing up the barbie?

Here’s how to stay safe.

When the weather’s hot, you can’t beat a bit of barbecuing. Cooking outside is a great way to enjoy the summer – and it keeps the kitchen tidy! But while you’re eating and relaxing, don’t forget the basics when it comes to barbecue safety. Here are some tips to remind you.

First things first – if you live in a flat

If you live in a flat, don’t use a barbecue on your balcony. They’re a fire risk. Falling embers could cause a fire on the balconies below you. There’s also a possibility that carbon monoxide could enter the flat through open windows. As such, using a barbecue on your balcony will put you in breach of your tenancy agreement. We also ask you not to store barbecues in communal areas.

Barbecue safety tips

To avoid injuries or damage to property, follow these simple precautions:

  • never leave the barbecue unattended
  • ensure the barbecue is on a flat site, well away from a shed, trees or shrubs
  • keep children, garden games and pets well away from the cooking area
  • keep a bucket of water or sand nearby for emergencies
  • make sure the barbecue is cool before attempting to move it.

Disposable barbecues

  • put them on an even surface, on either bricks or paving slabs
  • place them well away from the house, shed or fence
  • don’t put one on or near a public bench
  • make sure it’s cooled down before putting it in the bin – allow it to cool for several hours and then consider pouring water over it to make sure it’s out.

Charcoal barbecues

  • use only enough charcoal to cover the base to a depth of about 50mm (2 inches)
  • only use recognised fire lighters or starter fuel and only on cold coals – use the minimum necessary and never use petrol
  • never put hot ashes straight into a dustbin – they could melt the plastic and cause a fire.

Gas barbecues

  • make sure the tap is turned off before changing the gas cylinder
  • change cylinders outdoors if possible or in a well-ventilated area
  • 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 don’t 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.

Be carbon monoxide aware

Always use fuel-burning devices such as disposable barbecues, camping stoves, camping heaters, lanterns, and charcoal grills OUTSIDE. They should never be used in a tent or enclosed shelter such as a shed or garage.


Using them indoors can cause carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. They give off fumes for hours after you’ve used them – levels high enough to result in CO poisoning. Opening tent flaps, doors, or windows won’t stop the build-up of CO fumes. Also, when using fuel-burning devices outside, the exhaust should not vent into enclosed shelters.

Fire safety

By far the biggest danger is the use of flammable liquids to light the barbecue. We’re aware of some bpha residents pouring petrol onto charcoal in an effort to get the barbecue going. Unsurprisingly, the result has been highly dangerous. It’s better to prepare well in advance and light the charcoal early.