With forecasters predicting five days of sunny and dry weather, firefighters are urging people to be careful and sensible when cooking outdoors.
Chris Bailey, head of Buckinghamshire fire & Rescue Service’s community safety team, said: “A few simple precautions will minimise the chances of anything going wrong, particularly if this is the first time you are using your barbecue this year.”
He offered the following advice to anyone planning a barbecue:
Make sure your barbecue is in good working order, particularly if you have not used it for a while.
Don’t use barbecues on balconies or indoors.
Keep a bucket of water or sand nearby in case of an emergency.
The barbecue site should be flat and well away from sheds, fences, decking, trees and shrubs.
Children, garden games and pets should be kept well away from the cooking area.
Only use recognised lighters or starter fuel on cold coals, and never use petrol or paraffin to start or revive your barbecue.
Only use enough charcoal to cover the base of the barbecue to a depth of about 50mm or two inches, and never leave the barbecue unattended.
Never try to cook on a barbecue if you have consumed too much alcohol.
When you’ve finished cooking, make sure the barbecue is cool before trying to move it.
Empty ashes on to bare garden soil - never straight into a dustbin or wheelie bin.
If using a disposable barbecue, follow the instructions provided with it.
Disposable barbecues are designed to be used on the ground. Place on a stone slab or gravel, not grass.
Disposable barbecues should be completely cold before they are thrown away.
Additional safety tips if you have a gas barbecue
Never store gas cylinders under the stairs – if there is a fire they might explode and block your escape route.
Store gas cylinders outside, away from direct sunlight and frost.
Take care when turning bottled gas barbecues on and off.
Make sure the tap is turned off before changing the gas cylinder.
After cooking, turn the gas supply off first and then the barbecue control. This will stop any gas from leaking.
If you suspect a leak, turn off the gas cylinder and try brushing soapy water around all joints, watching for bubbles.
Make sure all joints are tightened, safe and secure.
Change gas cylinders outdoors or in a well ventilated area.