How a summer barbecue could claim your life

Ian Harrison from Hartlepool Borough Council Trading Standards.
Ian Harrison from Hartlepool Borough Council Trading Standards.

Council chiefs have issued a warning to people of the dangers of using disposable barbecues – which they say contains a potentially deadly hidden danger.

The cheap throwaway products provide a popular and easy means of al fresco cooking for dozens of people over the warmer spring and summer months.

‘I don’t want to see any more people fall victim to this deadly killer gas’.

But Hartlepool Borough Council says that there has been an increasing trend for users to use the left over heat from a used barbecue as a source of heat, which is fine if they remain in the open air.

But some users are risking their lives by taking the cooking aids into tents, caravans, or conservatories where invisible killer gas carbon monoxide is released with potentially tragic consequences.

Ian Harrison, Trading Standards and Licensing manager with Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “In recent years, nine people, including children, have died as a consequence of used disposable barbecues being taken into enclosed spaces either as a source of warmth or from a desire to maintain campsite tidiness.

“Even when apparently cold, disposable barbecues continue to produce carbon monoxide and when this is breathed into the body, even in relatively small quantities, it prevents blood from providing essential oxygen to cells, tissues and organs.

“Exposure to carbon monoxide in enclosed spaces causes drowsiness with the victims unaware that the poison gas that is surrounding them is producing an effect which eases them into a sleep that they may never wake up from.

“I don’t want to see any more people fall victim to this deadly killer gas.

“Our advice is quite simple. Never take a used disposable barbecue into an enclosed space, even if it feels cold to the touch. When you’ve finished using a disposable barbecue it should be left outside until the following day and then disposed of appropriately.”

By law, retailers do not have to include key safety messages on product packaging and literature which is a matter of concern to Mr Harrison.

He added: “We have been working with retailers and barbecue manufactures to improve the warning messages on these products but we are not yet where we want to be.

“We will continue to press for clearer warnings on both the products themselves and their promotional literature as it is essential that people do not inadvertently put themselves, or their loved ones, at risk.”