Beware of the BARBECUE – you’ll burn more than your bangers this summer. ‘Warn neighbours’

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Millions will dust off their barbies and light up their fashionable fire pits once warmer weather arrives, with calamitous results. As soon as we whip out our barbecue forks, household insurance claims spike.

May marks the start of National Barbecue Month, but many burger-happy Brits turn the heat up too high.

Every year, household insurance companies face thousands of claims for accidental fire damage, as Britons go flame grill crazy.

Insurer Aviva settles hundreds of claims every year caused by barbecues, garden bonfires, fire pits and fashionable chimeneas, freestanding front-loading fireplaces.

In exclusive research for Express.co.uk, Aviva warns that claims for fire damage jump by an incredible 40 percent between May and September.

It is urging barbecue lovers to keep their wits about them, as fire claims costs range from £2,000 to £6,000.

Aviva is urging people to keep an eye on their neighbours barbecue skills, too, as flying embers and out-of-control blazes spread easily.

Fences, sheds, garages, hedges and trees, conservatories and even houses go up in smoke every summer, said Aviva’s property claims director Kelly Whittington. Think twice about having barbecues and bonfires on breezier days.”

She cautioned: “Barbecues and fire pits are popular features in millions of gardens, and they can be a brilliant addition to social events, but they also come with risks.”

If not watched carefully, they can quickly get out of hand with potentially disastrous consequences. “The same goes for occasional bonfires, which many people use to burn garden waste,” Whittington said.

Most household insurance policies will cover damage to buildings and contents caused by a barbecue mishap. They should also cover you for any legal liability if you cause harm to someone or damage property that isn’t yours.

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However, if you were DRUNK at the time of the accident, your insurer could reject your claim.

If your home is affected by someone else’s out-of-control barbecue, contact your own insurer first, Whittington said. “It will consider whether to recover losses from the culprit.”

Aviva offers some common sense tips for safe barbecues.

Don’t leave fires unattended. It only takes a few seconds for a fire to get out of control.

Respect thy neighbour. Keep your fire or barbecue as far away from neighbouring fences and hedges as possible.

Show some courtesy. Let your neighbour know you are lighting a fire, particularly if they have washing on the line.”

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Be cautious with accelerants. They can quickly trigger a huge inferno, so exercise caution.

Watch the weather. If rainfall has been scarce, grass and plants are likely to catch fire much more easily. Windy conditions are also a hazard as they can spread flames over a large area in a small space of time.

Know the rules. There are no laws against having a bonfire, but neighbours can report you if it’s causing a nuisance. This could lead to a fine of up to £5,000.

Check it’s gone out. Dispose of barbecues, cinders and matches responsibly. Make sure coals are no longer glowing before disposing of them.

Keep a bucket of water or sand handy. You never know when you might need it.

Whittington added: “It’s wise to be prepared so you can respond quickly if a fire does get out of hand.”

Apart from that, happy barbecuing.

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