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Safety Authorities Warn: Always Take Care With Barbecues

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04 Dec 2008
Victoria’s fire authorities – the MFB and CFA – together with the state’s gas safety “watchdog”, Energy Safe Victoria (ESV), are urging the community to be particularly careful when using BBQs throughout the summer.

The warning is particularly relevant following the overnight incident at Werribee in which two boys, aged 14 and 11, received serious burns in an incident involving a gas cylinder. The incident is being investigated by ESV and the CFA.

The authorities provided the following important gas BBQ safety advice:

  • Ensure the barbecue and the gas cylinders are in good condition;
  • Ensure connecting hoses between the cylinder and appliance are not damaged or leaking gas;
  • Ensure hand-tightened cylinder connections are as tight as they can go – in the case of other fittings use a spanner if possible.
  • Do not drink too much alcohol when in charge of a BBQ. It can impair judgement and delay appropriate safety activities in cases of emergency.
  • Always seek medical attention if a burn occurs.

Things can go terribly wrong if simple precautions are not followed.

“Many people use gas operated barbeques over the summer months that haven't been professionally checked in a number of years. We encourage all Victorians to regularly inspect items such as gas cylinders, to prevent injury and deadly fires in the outdoors this summer,” said CFA Manager Community Development, Gwynne Brennan

A gas safety television commercial from ESV warning of the dangers when outdoor gas appliances, such as BBQs and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders and their connections are not in good condition, has been televised as part of ESV’s recent public awareness campaign.

The commercial stresses the importance of ensuring there are no gas leaks because of damaged and unsecured connecting hoses.

ESV has also published a new brochure advising of the safety precautions required to ensure BBQs operate safely at all times. It points out that more than half the injuries sustained by Victorians from gas use each year involve domestic BBQs. It also advises the community to engage licensed gasfitters to regularly check and maintain BBQs.

The brochure is available from ESV.

The MFB has reported that it attended 47 BBQ related fires in the Metropolitan Fire District last summer. In many instances, fires resulted from badly maintained BBQs.

The three authorities provide the following further general advice for barbecues and outdoor cooking:

  • Use soapy water on hoses to check for leaks to ensure they are tight and in good condition
  • If a wok burner is fitted to the barbecue, make sure its connections are tight
  • Always store cylinders outside
  • Never use barbecues or other outdoor appliances inside the house
  • Do not leave gas cylinders on the transit hook when a barbecue is in use
  • Only transport LP gas cylinders in an upright and securely fastened position
  • Never leave the barbecue unattended when cooking
  • Do not allow children near the barbecue unless supervised
  • Keep barbecues clear of flammable material such as vegetation

Follow these precautions and have an enjoyable BBQ on warm days through summer. Always treat gas with respect.

For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact the Media and Communications Department on (03) 9665 4394 or 

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