Tips for a safe BBQ

Barbecue safety tips

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

  • Never leave a 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.

  • Ensure the barbecue is cool before attempting to move it.

Disposable Barbecues

If you do use a disposable barbecue:

  • It must be placed on an even surface on either bricks or paving slabs.

  • Placed well away from the house, shed or fences.

  • It mustn’t be used near or on public benches.

  • If you're using a disposable barbecue ensure it has cooled before putting it in the bin. To avoid starting a fire you should allow it to cool for several hours and then consider pouring water over it to make sure it's completely out and cold.

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 or wheelie bin - 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 do not overtighten.

  • 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

Never use fuel-burning devices (eg disposable barbecues, camping stoves, camping heaters, lanterns, and charcoal grills) inside a tent.

Using these indoors can cause Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning.

They give off fumes for hours and hours after you have used them - levels high enough to result in CO poisoning.

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

Fuel-burning equipment can include:

  • Camping stoves

  • camping heaters

  • lanterns

  • charcoal grills

  • disposable barbecues.

Opening tent flaps, doors, or windows is insufficient to prevent build-up of CO concentrations from these devices.

Also, when using fuel-burning devices outdoors, the exhaust should not vent into enclosed shelters.

Fire safety

This may seem a long list but most of these things are common sense. 

By far the biggest danger is the use of flammable liquids to light the barbecue. We have had a couple of occasions where people have poured petrol onto the charcoal in an effort 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.

More information

Fire safety outdoors - leaflet (new window PDF 666 kb)


Last updated: Wednesday, 21 June 2023