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Child Safety around Barbecues

By: Rachel Newcombe - Updated: 27 Apr 2011 | comments*Discuss
Barbecue Barbecuing Outside Eat Food

When the temperatures soar, barbecues grow in popularity. There's something appealing about cooking your meal out on the open coals, lapping up the sunshine and enjoying a social gathering with family or friends. Although barbecues are enjoyable, they do pose Safety Risks To Children. While they should be used with care and attention at any time, it's even more important if you've got children.

Children are naturally curious about barbecues! They want to see what's going on, how well lit it is, what's cooking and are always keen to know when it's going to be ready to eat. They're drawn to where the cooking is going on, yet that's the most dangerous place to be. In fact, each year about 1,000 people suffer injuries, such as burns, caused by barbecues.

Supervising Children

Ensure children are supervised well at any barbecue. Tell them of the dangers of going close to the barbecue and that the person doing the cooking needs to have plenty of space to cook safely. Running about and playing in the garden may not be practical if the garden is small, and you don't want to run the risk of a child colliding with the barbecue.

Getting an adult to play games with children away from the cooking area is beneficial. Or, if you haven't got much space, perhaps they can take them out to a park while the cooking is in action. This way, the children could use up some energy and work up an appetite before they come back and eat!

Setting the Barbecue up Safely

To ensure everyone stays safe when you're barbecuing, the person in charge needs to set up the cooking device correctly, on a clear flat surface, light it properly and take care as they start to cook. Then follow these golden rules:

  • Before you start, ensure the barbecue is in good working order.
  • Find a place to set it up where the ground is flat and away from any sheds, fences, trees or overhanging shrubs.
  • Never light a barbecue indoors or in a garage.
  • Use charcoal and cover the base of the barbecue – about 2in (5cm) deep.
  • Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for lighting your barbecue, as models differ.
  • If it's windy, ensure the wind is blowing away from you when you light the barbecue.
  • Keep children away from the barbecue as you light it.
  • Don't wear loose clothing, or anything could dangle onto the flames.
  • Don't use any flammable accelerants, such as paraffin or petrol.
  • Light the barbecue at arms length.
  • Once the barbecue is lit, keep children away from it.
  • Keep a bucket of water close at hand, in case of emergencies.
  • Never leave the barbecue unattended and don't try to move it while it's lit.
  • When you've finished cooking, don't try to move the barbecue until it has cooled down completely. Then empty the ashes onto garden soil.
  • Don't put ashes straight into a dustbin or wheelie bin - if they are still even slightly hot, they'll melt the plastic and cause a fire.

Food Safety Issues

Don't forget that food safety issues are crucial too. Raw meat can contain food poisoning bugs and if raw meat is near to, or drips onto, cooked or ready-to-eat foods, the bugs can be transferred. Take care and use the following tips to ensure what you cook and eat will be fine for all the family.

  • Always wash your hands after handing raw meat.
  • Use separate utensils for cooked and raw meat.
  • Don't put cooked food on a plate or surface that's been used for raw meat.
  • Don't put raw meat next to cooked or partially cooked meat on the barbecue.
  • Keep raw meat away from ready-to-eat foods.
  • If a marinade or sauce has been used with raw meat, don't then add it to cooked food.
  • Ensure frozen food is thoroughly thawed before you cook it.
  • Don't start cooking until the charcoal is red hot with a grey powdery surface.
  • Cook food evenly, by turning it regularly and moving it around on the barbecue.
  • Make sure the centre of food is piping hot and cooked right through.
  • Don't make the mistake of assuming food must be cooked right through if it's charred on the outside, as this isn't always the case.

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