Barbecue & Portable Heater Safety

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Barbecue safety

Fire in a propane barbecue in summer

With everyone spending more time at home, Georgina Fire and Rescue Services is reminding residents of some safety tips to keep you and your family safe from fire and carbon monoxide poisoning that can be caused by the improper use of fuel-powered/heating appliances. 

  • BBQs, including gas, propane or charcoal, should only be used outside, away from all doors, windows, vents and other building openings.
  • Never use BBQs inside garages, even if the garage doors are open. If used in an enclosed space (garage, house, shed), carbon monoxide (CO) – an odourless, colourless, poisonous gas – will gather and reach dangerous exposure levels, which can lead to serious health effects, or even death.
  • Propane cylinders may not be used or stored inside any structure.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.
  • Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.

At the start of the BBQ season, do this three-step safety check of your BBQ:

1. Clean – Use a pipe cleaner or wire to ensure burner ports are free of rust, dirt, spider webs or other debris.
2. Check – Examine the hose leading from the tank to the burners. Replace it if cracked or damaged.
3. Test – Find leaks by applying a 50/50 solution of water and dish soap to propane cylinder connections and hoses. If bubbles appear, tighten the connection and/or replace the damaged parts and retest.

Portable heater safety

  • Ensure all portable fuel-burning heaters are vented properly, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Ensure all portable fuel-fired heaters are equipped with a safety tip-over shut-off feature and bear the mark of an accredited testing agency.
  • Keep portable heaters at least one metre (three feet) away from anything that can burn, including curtains, wall coverings, upholstery, clothing and people.
  • Keep all doorways and halls clear. In case of fire, a heater should not be blocking your escape.
  • Place heaters in areas where they will not get bumped or knocked over.
  • Prevent burns by keeping children away from portable heaters which can reach extremely high surface temperatures.
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm to alert you to the presence of deadly carbon monoxide gas.
  • Exposure to CO can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, as well as confusion, drowsiness, loss of consciousness and death.
  • If your CO alarm sounds, get everyone out of the home immediately. Then call 9-1-1 from outside the building.
  • Install working smoke alarms on every storey of the home and outside all sleeping areas to alert you to a fire in your home. 
  • Test your smoke and CO alarms monthly by pressing the test button to ensure they work.
  • Develop and practise a home fire escape plan with your family.