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Staying Safe During the Barbecue Season

You may find it hard to believe but around 1,400 people in the UK were admitted into hospital in the summer of 2008 with burn injuries, related to a barbecue. Many of these were children. The problems with barbecues is that the coals remain hot for a very long time after people have finished using the barbecue and this leads to a false sense of security. All it takes is for one child to knock into a barbecue and an accident can occur. And the new disposable barbecues are the worst as they typically are laid to rest on the ground where they are very dangerous indeed. It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom however and you don’t have to be a party pooper walking around with a watering can all afternoon screaming at the kids. Most of our guidance here is commonsense but you’d be surprised at what people think is acceptable to use on a barbecue. I’ll never forget my ex boyfriend squirting ‘liquid firelighter’ onto lit coals to get them to burn a little faster. He had to do without some eyebrows for a few weeks… I’m sure our readers are much more sensible but if you know someone that could do with a few pointers, get them to read this:

Lighting the coals:

Always get an adult to do this and always use the appropriate fuel to light the coals. Chucking some vodka on halfway through the cooking is not safety conscious so make sure you have the correct fire lighters and barbecue coal, light them well in advance of the time you wish to start cooking, typically around 40 minutes to an hour before, tell people that the barbecue is lit and leave it alone. Check on it every ten minutes or so until you are sure it is fired up nicely.

Food poisoning:

Is much more prevalent with food cooked on a barbecue than any other type of cooking. This is because the heat from the coals is extremely hot and food tends to get burnt on the outside and not cook properly on the inside. Another reason is that raw and cooked meat are often cross contaminated with the utensils used for placing the raw meat onto the barbecue being used to take them off once they have cooked. Also plates which had the raw meat standing on being used to place the cooked meats on and so on. To prevent the chance of food poisoning, either pre cook suspect meat such as chicken in the oven before you put it on the barbecue, this way you still get the chargrilled taste but are assured that it is cooked in the middle. And have one set of utensils and plates especially for raw food and keep this food on the left so that you naturally move it to the right when it is cooked.

The demon drink:

Drink and fire do not tend to mix very well so if you have a person that likes a drink then do not give them the responsibility of tending the barbecue. Give them another task such as bartender and make sure they are kept well away from the fired up area. Doddering old soaks are just what you do not need stumbling around near the barbecue and we all know an old drunk or two don’t we but there is nothing you can do to prevent people from having a good time. Just keep them occupied in another area of the party and hopefully they won’t knock it over!

Fire in the Hall!:

When the barbecue is over it is often forgotten that the coals are still quite hot and dangerous. This is fine and ok if the party is still continuing outside and you want a little bit of warmth through the evening hours. If you are about to all head indoors however, and you want to extinguish the flames immediately, close all the vents on the barbecue, get a spray can filled with water, and standing well back as the steam will be very hot, slowly spray the coals with water from the can. Carry on until all the coals are extinguished.

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