As summer approaches, we’re being warned about the alarming number of people hurt in barbecue accidents, as hospitals brace for a flood of injuries.

It’s the time of year when barbies are being lit up for the first time since last summer, and by taking simple precautions you can avoid turning this national tradition into a terrible accident.

It’s the potential time bomb that sits next to your hot plate, and it can cause a catastrophe in a flash.

If you’re planning on dusting off the barbeque this weekend, take note before you do.

Associate Professor Peter Hertche is Australasia’s leading adult burns surgeon. He’s the one called on to repair the stupidity arrogance and carelessness of those who think a barbeque explosion could never happen to them.

“It is a common injury, and it is becoming increasingly common,” Hertche said.

“The most common pattern is where there is a leak from the gas bottle itself because the fittings haven’t been tightened, and that will (if it’s in a tight space, such as the designer barbeques) cause a buildup of gas, and there will be a spark from the flames themselves, and you’ll have a fireball explosion – effecting the lower limbs.”

He fears we can expect more news headlines this summer as households move away from coal barbeques to propane gas designer barbecues.

According to Hertche young males are most at risk, because they often consume too much alcohol and become reckless around fire. Of the hundreds of flash fires each year, ten are potentially deadly.

“In our experience of those ten admissions, they’ve been admitted because it is a serious injury, and of the ones that we’ve looked at twenty per cent of them require a split skin graft, which means permanent disfigurement.”

Senior Superintend of NSW Fires Rob McNeil says it’s crucial we keep our barbeques clean of excess fat.

Also crucially, make sure you have a fire extinguisher or fire blanket nearby, should the worst happen.

“Where the fuel is, make sure the cylinder is in date, and it’s good working order – that the valve is easy to turn off. And make sure your hoses are in good working order, and strong, and they’re not fraying,” he advised.

GIO conducted the largest home fire safety audit, and claim more than half of gas fire explosions occur when the barbeque is left unattended. They encourage all households to spend ten minutes and do the home safety checklist to get fire ready this summer.

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