If you enjoy barbecues in your garden, BBQ safety is, of course, of paramount importance. To keep your garden and yourself and your family safe, and to continue to make the most of your garden over the coming years, you need to know how to barbecue the right way.
Over the last couple of years – more and more of us have become increasingly aware of the benefits of having a garden, or some of our own outside space. Gardens can offer us so much, allowing us to grow at least a little of our own food and other resources, and to cook, eat and relax outdoors.
Of course, once we have the perfect garden, the last thing we want to do is damage it through careless outdoor cooking. And, of course, the negative impact of careless barbecuing can be far more profound. The last thing you would want is injury to yourself or your loved ones.
Barbecues are involved in many hundreds of accidents that occur in the garden each year. Last time figures were collected through the Home and Leisure Accident Surveillance System (HASS/LASS) in 2002, an estimated 1,800 people visited A&E in the UK having had an accident involving a barbecue.
Barbecue the Right Way – Make a Sustainable Choice
Choosing non-sustainable options for a barbecue also comes with negative consequences which can be found far beyond the boundaries of your own garden.
While many will barbecue on gas, or over coals – opting to cook outdoors with wood, sustainably sourced or home-made charcoal, or eco-friendly pellets is a far more sustainable and environmentally friendly choice. You might also consider even more eco-friendly options – cooking with a solar oven, for example.
If you are looking for a barbecue for your garden, making a sustainable choice might also involve thinking carefully about the option you choose. It might even involve making your own barbecue or fire pit using reclaimed materials, rather than buying new. Since every purchase you make for your garden comes at a cost.
BBQ Safety – Siting a Barbecue
One crucial thing to think about when it comes to BBQ safety is where you position your barbecue.
Here are some key tips:
- Make sure the BBQ is located in an open site, without overhanging tree branches or shrubs.
- It should not be too close to your home, a shed, greenhouse, polytunnel or any other inflammable garden structure.
- Ensure that you position it on a level, stable surface.
- Make sure that the barbecue is not in a location where it is too close to a kids play area, or a pathway, where it could potentially be knocked over, or accidentally bumped into.
- Ideally, there should be a water access point close by in case of emergencies. So consider placing a barbecue reasonably close to an outdoors tap, pond, or a rainwater harvesting system.
BBQ Safety – How to Use a Barbecue
Here are some safety tips to bear in mind when using a BBQ:
- Check the wind direction and avoid lighting a BBQ in overly windy conditions.
- Always use an appropriate fuel and don’t overfill the grate or pit.
- Use appropriate fire lighters if required, only with cold fuel. (Sustainable firelighters like wood wool or beeswax based ones are eco-friendly and healthy options.)
- Never use flammable liquids like petrol to start the fire!
- Make sure you have suitable safety equipment such as heat-proof gloves, tongs and other utensils ready to avoid burns.
- Don’t ever leave a lit BBQ unattended.
- Make sure children and pets are carefully monitored around the BBQ area, and never leave them alone with the BBQ.
- Never attempt to move a BBQ while it is hot.
- Don’t put hot ash into a bin – always allow it to cool thoroughly before disposal.
BBQ Food Safety
Of course, you will also have to keep basic rules for hygiene and food safety in mind when cooking on a barbecue and when serving and eating the food prepared:
- Always wash hands thoroughly before touching food, after handling raw meat, and before eating.
- Make sure all surfaces used for cooking, food prep and serving are kept clean.
- Don’t use the same utensils for raw meat and cooked/ ready to eat food.
- Ensure that the food you serve is within date, has been stored correctly before serving etc..
- And make sure, especially when cooking meat, that it is properly cooked. If in doubt, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of anything you serve.
Most of the rules for BBQ safety are general common sense. So it should not be too challenging to make sure that you and your family and friends, your garden and your property remain safe and secure while you are cooking outdoors and enjoying spending time in your garden.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.