For many of us, lockdown has meant more time at home and this extends to eating 'in' while restaurants and pubs were closed. We've already written about your garden furniture here and with the weather forecast to be returning to more traditional early summer temperatures, we thought it was a good idea to focus on enjoying the tradition of outdoor cooking safely.

Aviva reported the average cost of a domestic fire claim during 2020 as over £21,000 so we've created a quick list to help you make your barbeque as safe and enjoyable as possible.

  • Position. Keep your barbeque away from any combustible plants or structures such as hedges, fences, sheds or summer houses. Be equally careful if you decide to erect any shade (or shelter!) to cook beneath.
  • Neighbours. Everyone needs good ones so it's worth both letting neighbours know that you're cooking outside as a courtesy (if they aren't invited of course!) but also flagging with them if their own is a little too close to any of your outdoor buildings. Many fire claims are reported to have started and spread from an adjacent property.
  • Unattended. Put simply, don't do it. Always make sure that someone is on hand to keep an eye on the grill. This is particularly relevant if there are children or pets in the vicinity – both are likely to have a potentially hazardous attraction to either flames or the delicious smells emanating from your cooking!
  • Instructions and operation. Make sure you are familiar with the grill if it's a new one and likewise make sure that it's in good condition as many will have been unused during the colder months. This is particularly important for gas fired models.
  • Ashes. Always dispose of ash carefully and ensure that it is cold before emptying into a bin – wheelie bin fires after ash disposal are one of the most common garden fires.
  • Water. Always have a bucket of water (or sand) on standby. A ruined meal is always preferable to a fire which has become uncontrollable.
  • Helping hand. Always treat accelerant carefully. Less is more and make sure any spills are cleaned up.
  • Weather. It can be argued that rain and barbeques are a British tradition and we wouldn't necessarily disagree but be mindful of windy conditions as this could spread flames and carry sparks very quickly.
  • Booze. We aren't trying to spoil the party but fire and alcohol are a bad mix and there's plenty of time to enjoy the fruits of your labour with an equally pleasant tipple once the grill is cooling down!

Above all else, enjoy your barbeque! There really is nothing better than cooking for your family and friends outside and it's fair to say that we could all do with the sounds of laughter and people enjoying themselves again.

We'll certainly be heading out to the garden to enjoy ours if the weather allows.