Outdoor Fire Safety

As summer finally seems to be upon us, Fire Kills, the Government department dedicated to improving fire safety, has made ‘Outdoor Fire Safety’ the theme for June. As an official Fire Kills sponsor, Safelincs is helping to spread the message.

barbecueBarbecues

Safety initiatives over the years have meant that actual fires caused by barbecues are uncommon. However, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), almost 2,000 people attend A&E units each year having had an accident involving a barbecue. Some of the accidents lead to very serious burns, usually as a result of using an accelerant such as petrol to light the fuel. The number of accidents usually increases if we have a hot summer.

Messages from Fire Kills that the fire service are being asked to communicate to the public include:
• Don’t drink too much alcohol if in charge of the barbecue (or any cooking!).
• Make sure the barbecue is well away from sheds, fences, trees, shrubs or garden waste.
• Never leave a barbecue or any cooking unattended.
• Never use a barbecue indoors; fumes from barbecues include the deadly gas carbon monoxide
• Keep a bucket of water, sand or the garden hose nearby for emergencies.
• Follow the safety instructions provided with disposable barbecues.
• Never use petrol or paraffin to start or revive a barbecue; use only recognised lighters or starter fuels on coal.
• Empty ashes onto bare garden soil, not into dustbins or wheelie bins. If they’re hot, they can melt the plastic and start a fire.

Camping

A few basic precautions are advised that will reduce the risk of fires starting and spreading:
• Never use candles in or near a tent – torches are safer.
• Don’t smoke inside a tent.
• Place the cooking area well away from the tent and clear of anything that could catch fire easily such as long, dry grass
• Set up tents at least six metres apart and away from parked cars.
• Keep cooking area clear of items that catch fire easily, including long, dry grass and in a place where they can’t easily be knocked over.
• Keep matches, lighters, flammable liquids and gas cylinders out of the reach of children.
• Have an escape plan and be prepared to cut your way out of your tent if there is a fire.

IT SHOULD BE PARTICULARLY STRESSED THAT BARBECUES SHOULD NEVER BE BROUGHT INSIDE A TENT. THEY EMIT DEADLY CARBON DIOXIDE FUMES (EVEN MORE WHEN THEY ARE COOLING DOWN). FATALITIES HAVE OCCURRED IN THE PAST.

Boat Safety

Fire safety on inland and coastal boats and pleasure crafts is also an issue. Fires can spread quickly on a boat, even on water. Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and detectors should be installed as a matter of course. Additional messages when living on board include:
• Maintaining a boat’s fuel, gas and electrical systems on a regular basis.
• Setting up an emergency plan with everyone on board before setting out.

Caravans

Having working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in a caravan is just as important as having them at home. Additional messages for those staying in caravans include:
• Ensure caravans and tents are at least six metres apart and away from parked cars.
• If smoking, use metal ashtrays – and never smoke in bed.
• Don’t leave children alone inside.
• Don’t block air vents
• Turn off all appliances before leaving the caravan or going to bed.
• Never use a cooker or heater whilst the caravan is moving.

The Countryside

Every year, fire destroys thousands of acres of countryside and wildlife habitats. Some fires are started deliberately, but most are due to carelessness. Dry ground in the summer means there’s an added risk of a fire starting. A few simple precautions will help reduce incidents.
• Extinguish cigarettes properly and never throw cigarette ends out of car windows.
• Avoid using open fires in the countryside.
• Don’t leave bottles or glass in woodland – sunlight shining through glass can start fires
• Only use barbecues in a suitable and safe area and never leave them unattended.
• If a fire is spotted in the countryside, report it to the fire and rescue service immediately.
• Don’t attempt to tackle fires that can’t be put out with a bucket of water – leave the area as quickly as possible.

Safelincs wishes its customers a happy and safe summer!

CO alarms in caravans

As we are getting closer to the caravan season starting again it is worthwhile thinking about how to protect yourself against carbon monoxide poisoning. Early in the camping year the temperatures at night are still chilly and there is a temptation to heat the caravan with the remaining ambers of the BBQ enjoyed earlier or to use the rings of your gas cooker to keep you warm. Both can be lethal. The BBQ, especially at low temperatures, produces large amounts of carbon monoxide which cannot be smelled or tasted. The CO gas renders you quickly unconscious and death can be the consequence.

Heating with your gas rings can also be dangerous. Kidde and one of the UK’s caravan manufacturers did some trials with cookers and partly blocked vents. While normal cooking activity with good ventilation only rose the CO levels in the caravan slightly, badly performing gas jets used in conjunction with oversize pans and and standard ventilation raised CO levels to over 100ppm!!!

When the ventilation was blocked the CO levels rose to 400ppm and the trials had to be abandoned for safety reasons!

Never take a BBQ into a caravan, do not heat your caravan with the gas cooker and always use correctly sized pans with correctly adjusted flames when cooking. Also make sure that your ventilation is working well when cooking with gas.

You should also install a CO alarm. It is important to install smoke alarms and CO alarms that have removable batteries fitted. This ensures that through the winter months when caravans are stored and the temperatures are low the batteries can be removed to prevent them from getting damaged and possibly leaking, causing the alarm to require replacement.

However, special care must be taken to place fresh batteries in the alarms at the start of the next season. Wrap your caravan keys in an envelope with a reminder to take new batteries with you!

The Kidde 900-0233 and 900-0230 CO alarms are good CO alarms that can be used in caravans. They have a 7 year warranty.

The alarm will sound if carbon monoxide is detected however, if you charge your car/caravan batteries inside the caravan, the hydrogen coming off the battery will set off the CO alarms, as the hydrogen behaves similar to CO! Never assume that when the alarm goes off it is a false alarm, always take precautions to investigate the cause and ventilate the caravan.