Ultimate BBQ Safety Tips for Summer

Mediterrani Large Stone Masonry BBQ

It’s a fire thing – and fire can be lethally dangerous. Whether you’re a seasoned BBQ pro or new to the outdoor cooking life, it makes sense to party the summer away with safety in mind. Here’s a list of top barbecue safety tips, fresh from the keyboard of your fave BBQ shop, plus a load of inspiring photos of some of the best barbies in the land. Let’s go!

How to be a BBQ expert

Essential BBQ safety tips

First, site your BBQ so children, pets and partying grown-ups can’t knock it over, fall into it, or trip over it. You might want to arrange the barbie so you cook facing people rather than with your back to them, so you can see who’s where and what they’re up to. Keep excited dogs calm if you can, and do the same with the children. In fact this is the perfect time for a refresher lesson in fire safety, whatever your age.

Keep proper fire safety equipment handy every time you cook outdoors: maybe a bucket of sand or water to quench stray flames, definitely a specially-made BBQ fire blanket to instantly stop fire in its tracks. These fire blankets are single-use, so remember to replace yours once you’ve used it.

You might like to choose a BBQ safety monitor for the event, someone who’s in charge of keeping an eye on things. And you might like to set up a BBQ fire action plan so if it happens you’ll know exactly what to do – and exactly where your fire safety equipment is – instead of running around in a panic.

Fire Blanket (120cm)

If you run a gas BBQ, stand the gas bottle safely where it can’t get in the way. Many gas barbecues are designed so the bottle stands inside the body of the BBQ, not outside, which makes them naturally safer. Otherwise, make sure the gas hose connecting the bottle and the barbie is tucked away, or at least easy for people to spot and avoid.

Lifestyle Big Horn Pellet Smoker + Grill

Obviously, don’t use your BBQ indoors – and please avoid standing it under a garden shade sail or canopy. Also steer clear of lighting a barbie in a tent, even a big marquee. Never stand one under a gazebo, since heat rises and it’s more or less impossible to tell how hot it’s getting above the BBQ. The last thing you need is carbon monoxide poisoning, which can easily disable or kill you. You probably don’t want to send your precious gazebo up in flames either, or melt it.

Never leave a burning BBQ alone, always make sure the fire is fully out before going indoors. Stand it well away from buildings, especially wooden ones. And always follow the operating instructions to the letter.

Many barbies come with three legs, which means they stay stable even when the ground isn’t totally flat. But it’s still best to stand yours somewhere as even as you can possibly make it. If you want to use a BBQ on decking, buy a special ground protector, sometimes called a chimenea protector.

Whether it’s been stashed outdoors with or without a cover, or in a shed, check everything’s working properly and nothing’s broken before lighting it up. If it’s a disposable BBQ, never stand it on a surface that can burn, melt or explode. And make sure it’s 100% cold before disposing of it.

Lifestyle Cuba 2 Burner Gas BBQ Grill

Next, some more safety advice for gas barbies and fire pits. Make sure the gas hose isn’t worn, frayed or or holey. Check the gas regulator is working and the gas bottle itself isn’t leaking or damaged. If in doubt leave any repairs to a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Never change a gas bottle without first turning off the gas taps. Always change gas cylinders outdoors where there’s lots of fresh air and the gas can’t cause a hazard. You really don’t want to blow your shed, greenhouse, garage or familyto kingdom come. Shut off the gas cylinder properly before you shut off the BBQ controls too, just in case there’s any gas residue. And look for actual gas leaks – the instructions usually show you how.

Lifestyle Dragon Egg Charcoal BBQ Grill

It’s best to clean and check a BBQ before and after every use. At the end of the summer, before you store it, clean the BBQ really well – a really good way to spot any damage. If it’s a gas version, disconnect the gas cylinder completely. Whatever kind it is, keep the barbie in a dry place. Alternatively cover it with a special barbecue cover and it’ll be ready to go whenever you are. The cleaner you keep it and the better you maintain it, the safer your bbq will be.

Food safety is also really important. Treat meat and fish the same way you would indoors, taking care not to encourage or spread infections. Keep everything nice and fresh. Store meat and salad in separate places. Keep food and ingredients in the fridge until you need them. You might buy a set of lidded containers to keep insects, dust, dirt and sticky little fingers away from raw and cooked food and ingredients.

Take care around glass and pottery. Would it be safer to go for plastic glasses and plates, so if anything gets dropped people and pets won’t be injured?

Tepro Keansburg 3 Burner Gas BBQ with Turbo Zone

A charcoal or wood fired BBQ comes with the same fire safety needs as a gas version. Unlike gas they give off smoke, which lends a wonderful flavour to the food but isn’t good when you breathe it in. If you tend to get sparks flying, make sure they can’t cause a blaze at your place or set the neighbours’ washing on fire!

It goes without saying… don’t let anyone touch a metal BBQ surface, even when you’ve finished cooking. And if you want to protect your precious plants you’ll need to make sure the bbq isn’t too close to the beds and planters.

If the weather’s unusually hot and dry you’ll want to think carefully about what to do if things get out of hand and you accidentally start a fire. It’s probably safer to BBQ in the garden than take it out to the park, the countryside, or the beach. Some horrendous wildfires have been started thanks to careless BBQ behaviour, like this 2022 disposable barbecue disaster at Baggy Point in North Devon.

Finally, a word about the booze. Go for it, enjoy it, throw it down your throat, party like a maniac – but if people are going to celebrate hard, take extra care over the layout and positioning of the garden furniture, the barbie itself, and anything surrounding it.

You can get creative with garden planters of you like, creating firm boundaries to keep the party safely contained away from harm’s way. Or arrange garden chairs and benches so they allow safe access even when people have had a few too many.

Well that’s it, folks. We wish you an awesome summer of delicious barbecue fun – and a safe time while you’re at it. Stay cool 😉

PS. These garden fire safety tips work just as well for fire pits, firebowls, pizza ovens and chimeneas.

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