Food cooking on a barbecue

A British summer isn't complete without a barbecue. Before you start sizzling away take a look at our tips for staying safe whilst having fun with family and friends.

Tips for barbecue chefs

  • Follow the safety instructions provided with disposable barbecues.
  • Make sure your barbecue is standing on a flat surface and away from fences, trees and sheds.
  • Only use enough charcoal to cover the base of the barbecue.
  • Light your charcoal an hour before you commence cooking.
  • Lighter fuels must only be applied before lighting.
  • Never use petrol or paraffin to start or re-ignite your barbecue.
  • Only use barbecue fire lighters or starter fuel on cold coals.
  • Be careful with fatty foods and never poor oil onto meat when it is cooking.
  • Try not to drink too much alcohol whilst cooking.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby.
  • Keep children, pets and garden games away from the cooking area.
  • Don’t leave the barbecue unattended.
  • Never use a barbecue indoors or in an enclosed space.
  • A warm, smouldering barbecue gives off plenty of poisonous carbon monoxide.
  • If used indoors or an enclosed space carbon monoxide can build up to dangerous levels very quickly.

After you’ve cooked

  • After you have finished cooking, extinguish the burning coals. Leave for a period of time and then check that the fire is completely out.
  • Make sure the barbecue is cool before trying to move it.
  • Never put hot ashes straight into a dustbin or wheelie bin. They could melt the plastic and cause a fire.

Additional tips for gas barbecues

  • Make sure your barbecue is in good working order.
  • Make sure the tap is off before changing the gas cylinder and do it in the open air.
  • When you have finished cooking, turn off the gas cylinder before you turn off the barbecue controls. This way any residual gas in the pipes will be used up
  • Don’t over-tighten joints.
  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions on how to check for leaks in the cylinder or pipework.
  • Don’t keep more cylinders than you need.
  • Gas cylinders should be kept outside. Away from direct sunlight and frost.
  • Change cylinders outdoors if possible or in a well-ventilated area.

Tips for disposable barbecues

  • It must be placed on an even surface on either bricks or paving slabs. Never place it directly onto grass or wooden garden furniture.
  • Place disposable barbecues well away from the house, shed or fences.
  • Do not use disposable barbecues 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 out.