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Make the Right Call: Staying safe while enjoying barbecues with friends

12:36 04 August 2014

Tips to stay safe while barbecuing with friends

Tips to stay safe while barbecuing with friends


This week, for our Make the Right Call campaign, which aims to direct people towards the right healthcare provider whether it is a GP, pharmacy, NHS 111 or A&E, we focus on garden and barbecue safety. Health correspondent Lauren Everitt reports.


Barbecues are a great opportunity for socialising with family, friends and neighbours.

Yet cases of food poisoning generally double over the summer months – partly down to the increased number of people barbecuing. That’s why it’s important to take some simple precautions to ensure barbecue food is properly cooked.

The two main risk factors are undercooked meat and spreading germs from raw meat onto food that’s ready to eat.

When you are barbecuing, make sure the meat is properly thawed before cooking and ensure it is turned regularly so it cooks evenly.

Remember that meat is safe to eat when it is piping hot in the centre and the juices are clear. Don’t assume that because meat is charred on the outside it will be cooked inside.

Germs from raw meat can move easily onto your hands and then onto anything else you touch, including food that is cooked and ready to eat. One of the best ways of preventing this spread of germs is to wash your hands after touching raw meat.

Cross-contamination can happen if raw meat touches anything that then comes into contact with other food.

Always use separate utensils for cooked and raw meat and never put cooked food on a plate or surface that has had raw meat on it.

Barbecue safety

When using a barbecue it can be all too easy to be distracted by family and friends around you. It’s important to remember that when barbecuing you are dealing with a real, live fire so you need to take precautions, including:

- Ensure your barbecue is on a flat site and away from anything flammable such as sheds, trees or bushes;

- Shelter the barbecue from any possible gusts of wind;

- Never use petrol to light a barbecue;

- If you’re doing the cooking – watch how much alcohol you drink.

Dealing with food poisoning

Dr Christopher Browning, a GP in Long Melford and chairman of the NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The symptoms normally begin one to three days after you’ve eaten contaminated food and include feeling sick, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps.

“You should rest and drink plenty of fluids. Try and drink as much water as you can, even if you can only sip it, and especially after every time you pass diarrhoea.

“It is best to avoid food until you are feeling better, and when you start eating food again try and choose easy to digest food such as toast.

“While no-one plans to have food poisoning, you might want to consider keeping a few sachets of oral rehydration salts in your medicine cabinet.

“These help replace the minerals lost through dehydration. Ask your pharmacist about these and other useful items that you should keep a supply of at home.”

Burns and scalds

If you or a family member or friend suffer a minor burn or scald you should follow this advice:

- Immediately get the person away from the heat source;

- Cool the burn with cool or lukewarm water for 10 to 30 minutes – do not use ice, iced water or any creams or greasy substances; - Remove any clothing or jewellery near the burnt area, but do not move anything that is stuck;

- Make sure the person keeps warm but take care not to rub it against the burnt area;

- Cover the burn with a layer of clingfilm;

- Use paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat pain.



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