There’s no doubt that a BBQ is a real treat for the senses. With all the sizzle, succulence, fun and flavour it’s easy to forget one thing – we’re playing with fire…literally. OK so we’re not quite dealing with towering infernos here, however a safe pair of hands at your barbecue or fire pit means a safe BBQ for everyone.
When it comes to cooking on open flames, hot coals and burning ash, knowledge is the key. In other words, the best way to ensure that your barbecue or fire pit remains as safe as possible is to educate yourself and those around you of the dangers that BBQs and open fires can pose. The more knowledge you have, the more you’ll be able to plan your event to be as safe as possible.
At Big K, we want everyone to feel safe and comfortable around barbecues and fire pits. So, we asked executive chef and Greek BBQ pro Theo Michaels for his top 5 tips for barbecue safety. Check out the video below to see what Theo came up with, and read on after to see all the tips and some extra info too.
To help you have fun and relax at your next BBQ, knowing you’ve got the safety details covered, we’ve come up with some extra safety information to go alongside Theo’s top 5 tips.
1. Never cook on charcoal indoors or in a confined space
As Theo says, “all charcoal gives off carbon monoxide, so never cook it indoors or in a confined space”. Carbon monoxide poisoning is extremely serious and using a barbecue, grill or fire pit indoors is very dangerous as these produce lots of carbon monoxide. Unless you are lighting a fire in a dedicated chimney with proper ventilation, don’t light charcoal or wood indoors.
Quite apart from the potential seriousness of carbon monoxide poisoning, burning charcoal indoors has the obvious added danger of potentially starting a fire. Plus, the smoke from barbecues or fire pits indoors can damage paintwork, soft furnishings and the walls of your home. Even in a garage with the door open, the dangers of barbecuing indoors just aren’t worth it.
2. If you’re barbecuing in a public place, extinguish it fully and dispose of it properly
This tip is as much about politeness as safety. If you’re having a barbecue in a public place, respect those around you. Not everybody will be in the park to have a BBQ, so try and set up away from other groups so you don’t ruin their day with excess smoke or ash. Make sure you take appropriate tools with you to properly extinguish a barbecue, so bring a fire extinguisher or bucket of sand.
When you’re finished barbecuing in a public place, make sure that you fully extinguish your barbecue. Ash can stay hot for a long time, so ensure that it is cool and properly extinguished before disposal. When disposing of your barbecue, whether it’s a disposable barbecue or you’re removing the ash from a grill, follow all local signs and only use hot ash bins if possible. If there are no hot ash bins you should wait until the ash has properly cooled before disposal.
3. Keep pets and children away from your burning barbecue
Barbecues are obviously extremely hot. This means you should exercise extra care around them, and make sure that pets and children stay well away. Remember that it’s not just about the top of your grill, the sides and underside of your barbecue can also be very hot, as well as the racks and grills. Even experienced pit masters have been known to burn themselves! A little bit of caution goes a long way here.
4. All charcoal can have sparks flying off it so be careful and stand back
Especially if they’ve been recently lit, all charcoal and wood products may have sparks or small pieces which fly up. You just need to be aware of this and make sure you stand back while lighting fires, as well as ensuring you don’t wear any clothing that’s overly flammable – keep the hair spray and acrylic jumpers well away.
5. Keep disposable barbecues on heat resistant surfaces
For disposable barbecues, it’s essential to have properly prepared the area that you’re grilling in. A safe foundation leads to a safer experience all round. This means placing the disposable barbecue on a flat, fireproof surface so it won’t tip over or scorch the ground underneath. The best solution is to use some bricks or a paving slab, then simply place the disposable barbecue on top. Alternatively, some manufacturers offer disposable barbecue stands, although you still need to ensure they’re placed on a flat surface. For more info, check out Big K’s complete guide to disposable BBQ safety.
Now that’s more peace of mind brought to you by the experts. Just follow Theo’s 5 top tips for BBQ safety and you’ll be well on your way to a safe, sumptuous and enjoyable BBQ.
About Theo Michaels
Theo Michaels is a published author, celebrity chef, and currently a full-time Executive Chef. After reaching the semi-final heats on UK Masterchef 2014, Theo went on to create a sell-out pop up restaurant and spend 3 years as a private chef, alongside appearances on ITV’s This Morning, The Food Network and BBC Radio. Find out more about Theo on his website, check out his new cookbook Orexi, or follow him on Instagram.