Is Your BBQ Area Safe?
The days are getting warmer, the backyard’s in bloom, and there’s a six pack next to a couple of nice wines in the fridge just waiting for you to kick back with friends and family. That’s right, it’s time to light up the barbie. The smell of a BBQ is a quintessential part of the Australian summer, but you have to do it right. More important than getting the right beer or that secret marinade, every barbecue needs to be safe.
Alcohol, a hot day, and a bit of “she’ll be right” attitude can be dangerous around an open flame, especially when you have small children running around as well. To stage a barbecue that everyone wants to remember, abide by these easy tips for hosting the Great Australian Barbecue.
Tips for keeping your family safe around the barbie this summer
- Local fire regulations and restrictions – Check that you’re complying with any fire restrictions that are in place, such as total fire bans. Strong winds can also be dangerous around barbecues, so always check the weather report before lighting up.
- Keep your barbecue maintained and serviced regularly – Check your gas cylinder for rust, and have it pressure tested at least once every six months. You also need to check the condition of the hoses and connections. You should always make sure that all connections are tightened correctly before you light up the barbecue.
- Use the right gas – The data plate on your barbecue will tell you which gas to use. Never use Autogas, which is different to LP and natural gas. It is not safe – or legal – to fill a barbecue gas cylinder with Autogas.
- Location – Set your barbecue up on a firm, level base away from flammable substances and structures that could catch fire. This includes such structures as garden sheds, pergolas, and vegetation.
- Easily accessible water– Make sure that you have a continuous supply of water available, such as a hose, in case there is an emergency. If you have a fire extinguisher, keep it on hand. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher, consider getting one for your home. Most household fires occur when preparing meals, so keeping a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and having it on hand for barbecues is a great way to keep your home and family safe. It may even reduce your insurance premium.
- Follow the manual – Read and follow the instructions that came with your barbecue, especially concerning starting up and shutting down the unit. You probably think you can remember what to do since last summer, but a quick revision can’t hurt. You may even discover a feature of the unit you never knew about. If you can’t find the instructions, look for an online manual or request a replacement one from the manufacturer.
- Supervision – Make sure the barbecue is supervised by a responsible adult at all times.
- Chemicals – Never put a flammable liquid on a barbecue.
- Protection – Keep kids, inebriated adults, and pets away from the barbecue. Remember to keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children.
- Inhalation – Barbecue gases and fumes can be harmful in enclosed spaces, so ensure that the barbecue area is well ventilated. In case of a gas leak, shut off the gas cylinder immediately and allow the gases to dissipate.
- Cleaning – Once it has cooled, clean your grill of built-up grease but allow hot ashes and coals to cool for 48 hours before removing them.
- Prevention – Look after yourself. Protect yourself from grease splatter with a protective apron and use proper barbecue utensils.
How to check your gas hose for leaks
- Make up a solution of household detergent and water in a spray bottle.
- Spray the gas hose and look for bubbles.
- A propane leak will produce bubbles. If you see bubbles, turn off the gas.
- If the leak stops when you turn off the gas, it’s time to get your unit serviced.
- If the bubbles are still forming, or you smell gas while cooking, call the fire department and do not move the barbeque unit.