Fire safety – barbecues, camping and the outdoors

Fire safety and prevention should not stop outside the home. Carelessness outdoors while barbecuing or camping can have fatal results. Fires can also destroy huge areas of countryside, people’s property and delicate ecosystems. Find out how to prevent fires when barbecuing and camping.

Barbecue safety

Whether you are in the garden or out camping, follow these simple tips to barbecue safely and avoid injuries or damage to property from fire:

  • make sure your barbecue site is flat and away from fences, trees and sheds
  • keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby, in case of emergencies
  • use only enough charcoal to cover the base of the barbecue to a depth of about 5 centimetres (2 inches)
  • never use petrol or paraffin to start, or revive, your barbecue – use only barbecue fire lighters or starter fuel on cold coals
  • keep children and pets away from the cooking area
  • don’t leave the barbecue unattended
  • after cooking, make sure the barbecue is cool before trying to move it
  • empty ashes on to bare soil, not into a bin

Gas barbecues – additional tips

Follow these extra tips if you are using a gas barbecue:

  • 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
  • don’t over-tighten joints
  • when you have finished cooking, turn off the gas cylinder before you turn off the barbecue controls – this means any gas in the pipeline will be used up
  • read the manufacturer’s instructions about how to check for leaks in the cylinder or pipework, eg brushing soapy water around all joints and looking for bubbles

Storing gas cylinders

  • Don’t keep more cylinders than you need.
  • Gas cylinders should be kept outside, away from direct sunlight and frost. If you have to keep them inside your house, make sure you don’t store them under the stairs. If there is a fire, they could explode and the stairs are likely to be your escape route.


Cosy but deadly

Camping safety

When you are going camping, follow these basic precautions to reduce the risk from fire and carbon monoxide.

  • Make sure you know the address and/or map reference of your camp site in case you need to contact 999.
  • Be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide whilst camping - download the poster, with helpful hints & tips, here.
  • Set up tents at least six metres apart and away from parked cars.
  • Make sure you know what the fire safety arrangements are on the camp site and where the nearest telephone is.
  • Don’t use oil-burning appliances, like lanterns, or candles in or near a tent – torches are safer.
  • Don’t smoke inside a tent.
  • Place your cooking area well away from the tent.
  • Keep your cooking area clear of items that catch fire easily (‘flammable’ items), including long, dry grass.
  • Put cooking appliances in a place where they can’t easily be knocked over.
  • Keep matches, lighters, flammable liquids and gas cylinders out of the reach of children.
  • Have an escape plan and be prepared to cut your way out of your tent if there is a fire

How to deal with a fire when camping

Remember these two simple tips:

  • Get everyone out straight away – fires in tents spread very quickly and stay out.
  • Call the Fire and Rescue Service on 999 and give a map reference if possible – provide a landmark, like a farm or pub, to help them find you.

How to reduce the risk of wildfires

Dry ground in the summer means there’s an added risk of a fire starting, but you should take care at all times of the year.

Follow these tips to reduce the chance of a wildfire in the countryside:

  • Extinguish cigarettes properly and don’t throw cigarette ends on the ground or out of car windows – take your litter home.
  • Avoid using open fires in the countryside especially during dry spells whan grass and vegetation are dry and flammable.
  • Don’t leave bottles or glass in woodland – sunlight shining through glass can start fires (take them home and recycle them).
  • Only use barbecues in a suitable and safe area and never leave them unattended.
  • if you see a fire in the countryside, report it to the Fire and Rescue Service on 999 immediately.
  • Don’t attempt to tackle fires that can’t be put out with a bucket of water – leave the area as quickly as possible.

 

Barbecue safety

Whether you are in the garden or out camping, follow these simple tips to barbecue safely and avoid injuries or damage to property from fire:

  • make sure your barbecue site is flat and away from fences, trees and sheds
  • keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby, in case of emergencies 
  • use only enough charcoal to cover the base of the barbecue to a depth of about 5 centimetres (2 inches) 
  • never use petrol or paraffin to start, or revive, your barbecue – use only barbecue fire lighters or starter fuel on cold coals 
  • keep children and pets away from the cooking area 
  • don’t leave the barbecue unattended 
  • after cooking, make sure the barbecue is cool before trying to move it 
  • empty ashes on to bare soil, not into a bin 
  • Gas barbecues – additional tips
  • Follow these extra tips if you are using a gas barbecue:
  • 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 away from ignition sources
  • don’t over-tighten joints 
  • when you have finished cooking, turn off the gas cylinder before you turn off the barbecue controls – this means any gas in the pipeline will be used up 
  • read the manufacturer’s instructions about how to check for leaks in the cylinder or pipework, eg brushing soapy water around all joints and looking for bubbles 
  • Storing gas cylinders
  • Don’t keep more cylinders than you need.
  • Gas cylinders should be kept outside, away from direct sunlight and frost. If you have to keep them inside your house, make sure you don’t store them under the stairs. If there is a fire, they could explode and the stairs are likely to be your escape route.

 

Carbon Monoxide Kills: Take these simple precautions:

  • Never take a barbecue into a tent, awning, caravan or motorhome.Even a cooling barbecue gives off plenty of poisonous carbon monoxide (CO), which can kill.
  • Never use a fuel-burning appliance to heat your tent or awning.Gas and kerosene heaters – unless they are permanently fitted in a caravan or motorhome – should only be used outside. Stoves and barbecues are designed for cooking not space heating.
  • Never run a gas, petrol or diesel-powered generator inside a caravan, motorhome, tent or awning. Make sure fumes from a generator don’t blow into your unit or anyone else’s from outside either.
  • Don’t cook inside your tent or awning 
  • Don’t use any other gas, charcoal, liquid or solid fuel appliances inside a tent or awning. Gas-powered fridges and lamps, for example, also need plenty of ventilation to prevent them producing poisonous carbon monoxide. Tents and awnings aren’t generally designed with this in mind. 
  • Always have gas appliances in your caravan or motorhome serviced regularly
  • Consider using a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm, provided it is suitable for the condition you intend to use it, check with the supplier/manufacturer, though it should never be used as an alternative to the precautions above.

For more safety information from The Caravanning Club click here.