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Is It Safe to Have a BBQ Under a Gazebo?

is it safe to have a bbq under a gazebo

Quite often the highlight and lasting memory of the summer is a barbeque with friends, outside on a beautifully sunny day, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Normally you would simply light the BBQ, cook your meat and enjoy without thinking about the direction of the wind, the amount of smoke or the temperature of the flames.

The answer is yes, but only under certain conditions. An enclosed space is not the safest place for a BBQ. If you plan on placing a BBQ under a gazebo, then you will need to have enough space.

The general rule of thumb is the less space the less safe! Obviously, not everyone has the right size gazebo, or even the space, to completely cover the area in which you want to cook and relax.

Safety Precautions When Cooking Under a Gazebo

The first thing is that BBQs need lots of air. This is so that there is good airflow and the smoke has room to escape. Otherwise, if you are cooking in a small cramped area then the smoke will accumulate, forcing you and your guests to inhale smoke which can lead to serious health problems in both the short and long term. Not a day you would want to remember! 

To do this you have to choose a large-sized gazebo, the bigger the better really! Ideally, you need at least 3 feet from the walls of the gazebo to the grill and approximately 9 feet in height. This ensures that you are not exclusively breathing in the smoke from your cooking. 

Additionally, a larger gazebo also minimizes the risk of fires. Any BBQ is a fire hazard that only needs the slightest nudge to start a catastrophe – so do not encourage it! Regardless of the type of BBQ you use, if it is placed too close to the flammable materials of a gazebo then you run the risk of a fire.

For example, thousands of fires start at home every year thanks to BBQs under a gazebo, and more than half of all the injuries sustained from outdoor cooking are thermal burns. The more room you have between your gazebo and anything else the safer you will be.

Another thing you can achieve with a larger gazebo is the space for your guests to move around. Not only will they be more comfortable and be able to have distance from the smoke from the grill, but they are also significantly less likely to accidentally ‘bump’ into it.

An accident of this nature could mean all sorts of problems such as knocking flaming coal from the fire, knocking food onto the floor, or even catching on fire themselves! None of these are good. So, the more room they have the fewer excuses they have to be near the cooking. You may even get yourself a little bit of peace to do the cooking!

Although not technically a safety issue, a BBQ that is too close to a structure can warp and ruin it. For example, a gazebo made from vinyl will change shape from the heat and painted surfaces may discolor easily. If you do not have enough room not only will you have safety issues but, if you are lucky, you may just end up with an ugly gazebo!

If you’re in the market for a new BBQ, we recommend a charcoal grill with offset smoker like this one by Royal Gourmet. It’s a dual style barbeque that can be used for grilling and smoking to give your meat that extra kick of flavor that it’s been missing.

Types of Food

With regards to the cooking certain types of meats are more suitable for cooking under a gazebo. The reasons for this include the fact that they cook at a lower temperature, reducing the heat and size of the flame as well as their fat content. Foods high in fat will often spit when placed on a BBQ, this is problematic for three reasons.

The first is that the piping hot fat can spit and hit one of your guests, causing severe burns and possibly even scarring.

The second is that the fat can spit and hit the gazebo, possibly causing a fire.

The third is that the fat can go into the flame resulting in a grease fire which, if allowed to get out of control, will require a phone call to the fire department!

Examples of meats that are suitable for BBQs under a gazebo:

  • Steak
  • Burgers
  • Chops

Examples of meats that are not suitable for BBQs under a gazebo:

  • Chicken
  • Pork

Additionally, vegetarian alternatives are a good source of healthy foods to grill under a gazebo. Both vegetarian “meat” products, and vegetable skewers etc. require very low temperatures to cook as well as minimal cooking times. The idea is that the lower the temperature needed to cook your food, and the quicker it cooks, the safer you will be.

The Type of BBQ

There are many different types of BBQ, such as:

  • Charcol
  • Propane
  • Wood
  • Gas
  • Electric

However, any BBQ has its risks, even just from the fat content of the meat. But there are a few things you can do to ensure that your BBQ itself is as safe as possible. You should always place your BBQ on a flat, stable surface and away from children. This ensures that it will not be knocked and that the flame should not move from the contained space.

Never use a BBQ indoors. They are for outdoor use only. Clean your BBQ regularly to stop grease build-up to prevent a possible grease fire and also read the manual in case there are any instructions or care issues specific to your BBQ.

If you are using a charcoal BBQ do not usestarter fluid if there is already a flame, only use this before lighting. Using start fluid on a flame can cause it to be uncontrollable and allows it to grow in height, possibly injuring someone or lighting something on fire.

Always keep the temperature of your BBQ as low as possible and put it out quickly if it becomes too hot or the flames become too big.

If you are using a propane BBQ always check the tank and hose for leaks before use. To do this rub soapy water over them and if bubbles form at any point then there is a leak. If this is the case do not use it. A propane leak can have seriously dire consequences, including a spreading fire that is nearly impossibly to control without calling a fireman.

Alternative BBQs

One pricey alternative is an outdoor kitchen which can sometimes come fitted with its own gazebo-style awning. In this case, ensure that the cover is up to safety standards and that you have enough room both around and under it to prevent any of the issues highlighted above.

If you are unsure it may be best to contact the manufacturer and let them know of any concerns to better understand the equipment that you are dealing with.

Final Thoughts

It is typically safe to have a BBQ under a gazebo as long as some basic safety is kept in mind. Having enough space for a BBQ as well as having a good way to vent the smoke from cooking are two of the most important factors that need to be accounted for.

The types of meat and the way you are preparing the meat also plays an important role in grill safety. If cooking meats by smoking, you increase risks if your cooking space is too small or too confined.

A great way to house a BBQ under a gazebo is to have a custom built outdoor kitchen that is properly designed and spaced to safely operate the BBQ.

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