Now that the warm and light evenings are with us and the summer holidays are fast approaching, barbecues are beginning to sizzle across Herefordshire and Worcestershire. But behind the bangers and burgers, summer fun has a serious side.
Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, as part of the Fire Kills campaign, is asking everyone to take extra care when cooking outdoors, especially when lighting barbecues or dealing with bad weather.
Safety must be a top priority, especially during the current extremely hot weather when the countryside and garden grass and hedges are bone dry. In Herefordshire and Worcestershire, between 1 Jan 2012 and 31 Dec 2021, the fire service was out to over 60 incidents involving barbecues.
Emma Roberts, HWFRS Head of Prevention, said:
"It's natural to head outdoors and enjoy the warmer weather with family and friends - many of us can't wait to get the barbecue fired up. We all know how tempting it can be to give stubborn coals a helping hand, but, please be patient and make sure you use the right tools for the job.
"And 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, so we are urging everyone to stay safe this summer."
By following the Fire Kills campaign's top tips, you can ensure your barbecue is a safe, enjoyable event.
- never leave a lit barbecue unattended
- follow the safety instructions provided with disposable barbecues
- never use a barbecue indoors
- make sure your barbecue is well away from sheds, fences, trees, shrubs or garden waste
- keep children, pets and garden games away from the cooking area
- after cooking, make sure the barbecue is cool before moving it
- use enough charcoal to cover the base of the barbecue, but not more
- empty ashes on to bare garden soil, not into dustbins or wheelie bins. If they're hot, they can melt the plastic and cause a fire
- enjoy yourself, but don't drink too much alcohol if you are in charge of the barbecue
- always keep a bucket of water, sand or a garden hose nearby for emergencies
"This seems like 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've seen occasions where people have poured petrol over the charcoal in an effort to get it going and the reaction has, predictably, been violent and highly dangerous. "So, prepare well in advance and light the charcoal early.
"Most of all, have fun in safety."
For more information on fire safety, especially during the current heatwave please visit www.gov.uk/firekills. Further safety advice can be found at www.hwfire.org.uk or by calling the Prevention Team on 0800 032 1155