WITH the hot weather set to continue, many people will be thinking of having barbecues.

While not wanting to put a dampener on people's enjoyment, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service does want everyone to be aware of the potential dangers of barbecues if proper care is not taken.

The service's head of prevention and protection, Keith Brooks, said: "We want people to enjoy the summer weather but want them to stay safe doing so. By far the biggest danger of barbecues is the use of flammable liquids to light it.

"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. I would also urge everyone to follow the safety advice below. It may seem a long list but most of the advice on it is common sense. Most of all, enjoy yourself safely."

To avoid injuries or property damage, follow these simple precautions.

Make sure your barbecue is in good working order and, when in use, is on a flat surface away from sheds, trees or shrubbery.

Never leave the cooking station unattended and it is a good idea to keep a bucket of water or sand nearby for emergencies.

Use only enough charcoal to cover the base to a depth of about 50mm (2 inches).

If using a gas barbecue, make sure the tap is turned off before changing the gas cylinder. It is advised that users change cylinders outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.

After cooking, turn off the gas cylinder before turning off at the controls to ensure any residual gas in the pipe work is used up.

If using a disposable version, it is imperative to ensure it has cooled fully before putting it in a bin.

To avoid starting a fire you should allow it to cool for several hours and then consider pouring water over it to make sure it's out.

Other vital safety information can be found on the website – cheshirefire.gov.uk/public-safety/campaigns/outdoor-safety/barbecue-safety