AS the warm and light evenings take hold, barbecues are beginning to sizzle across Essex.

But behind the bangers and burgers, summer fun has a serious side.

Essex Fire and Rescue Service is reminding everyone to take care when cooking on a barbecue, particularly when dealing with bad weather.

The service has issued some top tips for stay safe this summer if you're cooking al fresco.

  • Never leave a lit barbecue unattended.
  • Follow the safety instructions provided with disposable barbecues.
  • Never use a barbecue indoors.
  • Make sure your barbecue is well away from sheds, fences, trees, shrubs or garden waste.
  • Keep children, pets and garden games away from the cooking area.
  • After cooking, make sure the barbecue is cool before moving it.
  • Use enough charcoal to cover the base of the barbecue, but not more.
  • Empty ashes onto bare garden soil, not into dustbins or wheelie bins. If they’re hot, they can melt the plastic and cause a fire.
  • Enjoy yourself, but don’t drink too much alcohol if you are in charge of the barbecue.
  • Always keep a bucket of water, sand or a garden hose nearby for emergencies.

Most of the tips are common sense, but where there is fire there is danger and so it is important to keep safety in mind at all time.