National BBQ Week is upon us! It’s a time to enjoy delicious food, good company and an opportunity to relax in the sun with your furry friends.
Set to fall during the return of the British summer heatwave, on Monday July 5th, the nation will celebrate the 25th anniversary of National BBQ Week.
Over the last year, the amount of UK BBQs increased by 391% with around 60 million BBQs already taking place. Whether that’s a result of the warm weather, or the easing of the lockdown, the numbers are expected to steadily rise over time as we enjoy the great British weather for a change.
However, we must still remain cautious, as it is always important to remember the safety hazards BBQs present for the nation’s 17 million household pets.
I asked BBQ and fire bowl manufacturer Indian Fire Bowl Company for their advice to help you ensure the safety of your pets and wildlife when having a BBQ.
How to set your BBQ up in a safe space around pets
First and foremost, where should you put your BBQ?
A secure and secluded space is always recommended when having a BBQ around pets. This will stop your pet from getting too close to any potential hazards, subsequently avoiding unnecessary accidents.
Medium to high brick walls or gated areas are the perfect barriers between your BBQ and pet. It is also advised that a BBQ should preferably be set up in a secluded part of the garden away from any activity, this will help keep your pet safe and will prevent them from accidentally knocking over any BBQ or fire pit.
It is important to ensure that these designated areas are away from any flammable materials that might harm you and others around you.
BBQs should also be placed on flat ground. Uneven surfaces can be a fire hazard and could result in your BBQ tipping over if accidentally knocked. If hot coals and ash do spill onto the ground, surfaces can quickly overheat, resulting in burns and damage to your pet’s paws if walked on.
Spillages should be cleaned safely and quickly. One tip to make sure it is safe, is to always feel the ground with the back of your hand. Leave it there for 10 – 15 seconds to make sure it is cool and when it is back to normal, you can allow your pet back into that area.
How to safely manage open BBQ flames around pets
The large open flames of traditional charcoal BBQs can be the biggest threat to pets around a BBQ.
With the average grill temperature around 177C, it’s vital to ensure your BBQ is safe and secure to avoid pets burning themselves on hot coals and grills.
Accidents can be prevented by making sure the lid of your BBQ is kept closed. Keeping your pet from burning their paws if they become inquisitive and climb up.
When you have guests over, it is very easy to become distracted from the BBQ, but you must be around and make sure the BBQ is supervised at all times. Keep regularly closing the BBQ lid when possible, as well as regularly checking the temperature. You can’t afford to switch off completely so you must show an awareness of your surroundings at all times for optimum safety around pets.
What’s the correct way to put out a BBQ?
Traditional BBQs can remain hot for up to 2 days as charcoal takes longer to naturally cool down. With this in mind it’s advisable to keep your BBQ vents closed and keep your pet away from the BBQ for 48 hours.
If you decide to let your pet into the garden during this period of time, make sure they’re supervised at all times. Just because a BBQ is no longer in use, it doesn’t mean it is safe. BBQs need to be isolated away from any hazards still within this recommended time frame.
If you have a traditional rather than gas BBQ, you can safely remove your hot coals and place them into cold buckets of water instead of spreading them on the ground. This will ensure pets don’t walk on them and injure their paws.
You must remember to turn off and put out your BBQ immediately once you have finished using it. This will help save fuel and prevent any risk of it flaring up and burning anything near it.
What are the main food hazards associated with BBQs that are dangerous for pets?
Although usually okay for you and me, some foods are poisonous or harmful to pets.
As some pets will eat whatever they see, you need to act sensibly when handling charcoal and lighter fluids. These contain lethal toxins which are naturally poisonous to animals. You also need to be aware of other things associated with food at BBQs such as skewers, ribs and chicken bones which are potential choking hazards to your pet.
These items that are stereotypically enjoyed at BBQs are particularly harmful to pets.
- Wooden or metal Kebab sticks – these can be swallowed or can even cut your pets mouth
- Ribs and bones – Another choking hazard which could even puncture your pet’s digestive tract
- Corn on the cob – This can cause digestion problems
- Onions – These contain a Allium, a toxin that can harm your dog’s red blood cells
Also, when you’ve finished with the BBQ, our first action is to clean it and put it away. When doing so, you must check that cleaning products are safely stored away from pets. If consumed, these can be fatal for pets and humans. It is important to keep the BBQ covered when it has cleaning products on so that pets and wildlife do not come into contact with it.
Understanding the dangers of disposable BBQs and their effect on wildlife
Over 19,000 acres of moorland in the Peak District has been destroyed as a result of wildfires. Unfortunately, a lot of these fires are linked to disposable BBQ’s.
Made up of flammable coals, these can easily spill out onto grassland causing fires if accidentally knocked or not put out properly. As a result of this, many safety measures have been strictly placed which only permit BBQs to take place in safe, designated areas.
Under guidance from UK Fire Safety, people must dispose of smoking materials properly whilst making sure they are completely extinguished. On top of this, people must always attend their campfires or barbecues to reduce the chance of causing an accidental wildfire.
If you are unsure whether an area is designated as a safe barbecue zone or not, you should contact your local council for information.
If you follow these rules, they can protect vegetation and the natural habitats of thousands of UK wildlife and ultimately decrease the chances of damaging them through wildfires.
Be responsible and enjoy your BBQ with your pets
BBQs are a great way to enjoy the outdoors and socialise with friends or family. However, there can be some dangers associated with them if not handled properly. To help ensure that you don’t accidentally cause any wildfires by forgetting about your BBQ when it’s finished cooking, make sure you remember these simple rules: always attend barbecues or campfires; dispose of smoking materials properly; never leave disposable barbeques unattended; and follow all guidance from UK Fire Safety in regards to designated safe areas for barbecuing. If followed carefully, this will keep vegetation and wildlife healthy while also ensuring you have many happy memories at future outdoor events!