Barbecues, booze and blazes
While a sizzling barbecue, warm sunshine and plenty of booze might be many people's idea of a perfect summer's day, it can also be a recipe for disaster. According to new research released by MORE TH>N Home Insurance, Brits have caused a staggering £617 million of fire damage to their properties after barbecuing drunk.
Brits need few excuses to crack out the barbie, or indeed the beers, and one in four (25 per cent) will be drunk every time they take charge of the charcoal. However, the garden is a hive of flammable features - from gazebos and wooden furniture to sheds and trees - and drunk Brits have been responsible for reducing 1.5 million gardens to cinders in the last two years - largely as a result of absent-mindedly lighting the barbecue near these flammable features or by knocking over the barbecue and scattering the white-hot coals.
However, it is during the upcoming, action-packed summer of 2012 when inebriated infernos are predicted to reach new heights. That's with the revelation that millions of Brits are already penciling in boozy barbecue parties to coincide with the UEFA European Football Championships (22 per cent), The Queen's Diamond Jubilee (20 per cent) and the Olympics (19 per cent) - which could result in over 900,000 garden fires before August is out4.
The unofficial title of ‘Head Barbecue Chef' is often a male-dominated one, so it is perhaps unsurprising to hear that the worst offenders of drunkenly grilling the garden are men - being responsible for the majority of incidences reported (80 per cent). However, it would seem when the girls get behind the barbecue that the heat is truly turned up, with women causing an average of £525 worth of drunken property damage compared to £383 for men.
Despite spreading like wildfire across the country, it is in the East Midlands where barbecuing under the influence is most commonplace - with 38 per cent of respondents from the region guilty of starting a backyard blaze. Following closely behind are Brits in the northwest (26 per cent) and Wales (24 per cent), while those in the Southwest report the lowest number of incidences in the country (4.5 per cent).
In light of the findings, MORE TH>N Home Insurance has today released its top tips on how to avoid drunken bedlam when barbecuing. These include:
1. Never use the barbecue when drunk - even if you miraculously avoid setting the garden on fire there's a good chance your impaired judgment will result in undercooked (or severely overcooked) food that is unsafe to eat, or you could easily give yourself a nasty burn.
2. Anything wooden could be a fire hazard - ensure the barbecue is positioned well away from the shed, garden fence or trees.
3. Never use petrol to ignite a barbecue - stick to using firelighters and coals.
4. Disposable barbecues are fires waiting to happen - always ensure they are placed on a non-flammable surface and make sure they are completely extinguished before disposing of them.
5. Brave the smoke - never leave the barbecue unattended while it is in use.
Janet Connor, Managing Director, MORE TH>N, commented on the findings: "For many, firing up the barbecue is a symbol that summer has finally arrived, and with the UK's sketchy weather it's no surprise that we want to make the most of these outdoor occasions by enjoying a few drinks. However, as this research shows, it doesn't take much for a pleasant barbecue to turn into a smoky disaster.
"With this summer offering more barbecue and booze opportunities than ever before, we are urging Brits to be more responsible when in charge of the grill. After all, just a few small acts of mindfulness will go a long way to ensuring it's only the sausages, and not the shed, that gets sizzled this summer."