Home safe and sound - summer fire safety

Stay safe outdoors with our fire safety advice.

There’s nothing like a sunny day to draw you out to the garden, balcony or a nearby outside space. But just because you’re outdoors doesn’t mean there’s not a risk of fire.

Here’s a few things you can do to reduce risks in your outdoor space:
  • Never store anything flammable on a balcony
  • Clear any clutter
  • Move sheds or storage boxes away from your home
  • Get rid of any damaged or broken outdoor furniture
  • Make sure nothing’s propped up against your home
  • Always put cigarettes right out and dispose of them properly

Phil Clark, Area Manager at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, says: “By far the biggest danger is the use of flammable liquids to light the barbecue. We have had a couple of occasions where people have poured petrol onto the charcoal in an effort to get it going and the reaction has, not surprisingly, been violent and highly dangerous. Prepare well in advance and light the charcoal early. Most of all enjoy yourself safely.”

Carbon Monoxide

BBQs using gas or fuels like wood or charcoal produce carbon monoxide (CO) and sadly each year there are reports of deaths or serious injuries from CO poisoning within enclosed spaces, including tents and caravans. 

One incident in a block of flats saw seven people and a six month old baby rescued when a cloud of gas released from a propane BBQ cylinder combusted. It’s thought the gas came into contact with a lit cigarette where the barbecue was being held.

Tyne and Wear Fire Service advise BBQs of any type must only be used in open air spaces with ample ventilation and should never be used indoors, on balconies or in tents or caravans


Even when they appear to be extinguished, there is still a real danger of CO poisoning from smouldering remains, which should either be doused in water or left to burn out in the open air, away from any flammable materials, people or grassland. 


A BBQ is a great way to get people together, but it’s also easy to get distracted and forget the safety risks. To avoid accidents, follow these simple steps:

  • Never use a BBQ, fire pit or chimenea indoors or on a balcony
  • Check your BBQ is in good working order before you use it
  • Place your BBQ on a flat surface, well away from sheds, trees, shrubs or anything flammable
  • Keep children, garden games and pets well away from the cooking area
  • Never leave the BBQ unattended
  • Keep a bucket of water or sand nearby for emergencies
  • Make sure the BBQ is cool before attempting to move it

What if I’m using a charcoal BBQ?

  • Only use enough charcoal to cover the BBQ base to a depth of about 5 cm or 2 inches
  • Make sure you’re using cold coals before you light the BBQ
  • Use a recognised fire lighter or starter fuel, using only the minimum amount necessary
  • Never use petrol on the BBQ
  • Never put hot ashes straight into a dustbin or wheelie bin – they could melt the plastic and cause a fire

What if I’m using a gas BBQ?

  • Make sure the tap is turned off before changing the gas cylinder
  • Always change the gas cylinder outdoors or in a well ventilated area
  • If you suspect a leak to the gas cylinder or pipe work, brush soapy water around the joints and watch for bubbles – if you spot bubbles try tightening the joint to stop the leak, but don’t overtighten it
  • After cooking, turn off the gas cylinder before turning the BBQ off at the controls so any gas left in the pipes is used up