Warning on barbecues

TRADING standards chiefs have issued a warning over the dangers of disposable barbecues in the wake of a recent campsite death.

The labelling of some disposable charcoal barbecues has been criticised by Hartlepool Borough Council’s trading standards officers following the death of a 14-year-old girl in Shropshire earlier this month.

The teenager and her family were using the barbecue to warm up their tent, but were overcome by carbon monoxide fumes.

The tragedy follows the deaths of five other men, women and children in the past year when lit barbecue equipment was taken inside enclosed tents either to cook on or as sources of heat.

Many people are aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide from faulty gas products in their homes but don’t know that this deadly poison is produced in the burning of all fossil fuels including barbecue charcoal.

Hartlepool Trading Standards has examined a number of disposable barbecues widely on sale in the town and found that the vast majority of them do not contain warnings of the deadly risk from carbon monoxide poisoning when using them in enclosed spaces.

Only one product was found to have a prominent Government recommended warning that burning charcoal inside can kill.

Trading standards experts stress that when used as intended in the open air, disposable charcoal barbecues are a safe, easy, cost effective method of cooking food.

After using them though the residual heat from the barbecue can be seen by campers as a method of keeping their tents warm unaware that even when cooling down carbon monoxide is produced and contained within the canvas walls with deadly effect.

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas.

Exposure to carbon monoxide in enclosed spaces often causes drowsiness. Other symptoms include headaches, nausea, exhaustion, vomiting and ‘flu like’ symptoms.

The council’s principal trading standards and licensing officer Ian Harrison warned that once lit, a disposable barbecue should never be taken inside a tent or other enclosed space for any reason.

He said: “After use, a disposable barbecue should be left outside to cool down completely and then disposed of appropriately.

“In order to help prevent any further tragedies we are urging all manufacturers, importers and retailers to ensure consumers are made fully aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning if lit disposable barbecues and other charcoal burning products are taken inside tents and other enclosed spaces.”