Summer is a time best known for pools, parties and outdoor barbecues. However, this season of the year should also be associated with safety. You might be surprised to learn that over 1,800 people are estimated to suffer barbecue-related injuries each year (1). Burns and scalding are some of the most common situations and thankfully, following a handful of simple barbecue safety tips will help to ensure that the health of you and your loved ones is never placed in jeopardy. Let’s look at some logical rules to follow at all times when cooking in the great outdoors.
Stability at All Times
Many accidents will occur due to an unstable barbecue. Make certain that the unit is placed upon level ground (cement or brick is preferable). Ensure that the weight of the unit is evenly distributed between its four legs and if the barbecue happens to have a set of wheel locks, they should remain tightly latched when cooking. Many injuries will occur as the result of a barbecue accidentally tipping over while in use, however with awareness this can be prevented.
Dealing with Flames and Smoke
It is never wise to cook within an enclosed space, as the chances of smoke inhalation will rise. In addition, do not overfill the barbecue with too many briquettes. This can create a dangerous situation once the unit is lit. Only place the recommended amount of lighter fluid onto the material, as too much could cause a sudden “flash over”. When lighting the barbecue, ensure you never place your head directly over the grill. This can result in singes and burns, which could otherwise be avoided. If you happen to notice that the flames have become too high, it is always best to shut the lid as opposed to dousing them with water. Water could cause a small steam explosion and it may also eject flaming briquettes from the barbecue itself; leading to additional fires.
Gas Cylinders and Bottles
Many modern barbecues utilise LPG (liquid propane gas) cylinders. While these are very convenient options, they can also be dangerous if handled incorrectly. We recommend that you regularly test for leaks. These will often occur around connections such as flexible hoses and valves (2). The best way to determine if any are present is to place soapy water within a spray bottle. Douse any areas which are suspected of leaks. If you notice slight bubbles emerging when the regulator is open, it is safe to assume that a leak is present. The unit should be turned off and the cylinder subsequently disconnected until the appropriate replacement has been found. Hoses and gaskets are two of the main culprits behind fires, so they should be examined closely on a regular basis.
Another one of the most prudent barbecue safety tips is to turn off the gas at the bottle before shutting the unit down. This is wise for two reasons. First, it ensures that you will not happen to forget to close the valve at its source. Secondly, any gas that might be remaining within the line will be used up. On a final note, it will help to eliminate any potential leaks if you are planning to store the barbecue away for a period of time.
As Always, Safety First
The steps mentioned above are very easy to adopt and they will become habits in no time at all. After all, safety is the responsibility of anyone who plans to enjoy a warm afternoon in the sun. If you would like additional advice, EFL Fire & Security is happy to help. Please give us a call or submit an online enquiry to find out more.