Caravan Safety Tips
A caravan or mobile home fire is always serious and can have disastrous consequences. By following a few simple steps and having a basic level of awareness you can reduce the risk of a fire in your caravan or mobile home.
Siting Your Caravan
When siting your caravan it is important to try and site it at least six metres away from others, therefore lowering the risk of fire spreading. It is also important to keep your caravan ventilated and don't block any air vents. If you are on a caravan site get to know where all the fire fighting firefighting equipment is located.
You may wish to consider having a fire extinguisher in your caravan. This will enable you to tackle a small fire and can minimise the risk of a fire spreading and getting out of hand. Ensure that everyone knows how to use the extinguisher and how to raise the alarm in the event of a fire. We would recommend a water mist extinguisher as it will tackle most small fires, including electrical fires.
If you are renting a caravan on a caravan site, a fully charged Water or AFFF Foam fire extinguisher and a CO2 extinguisher should be located inside the caravan near an exit door and a fire blanket should be adjacent to the cooking area.
Smoke Alarms & Detection
Ensure you have at least one smoke alarm in your caravan and test your smoke alarm once a week to make sure the batteries are working. You can also test smoke alarms by using an aerosol smoke detector tester which is ozone and environmentally friendly.
Having a smoke alarm in your caravan will alert you and other occupants to the fire, enabling them to escape to safety. We would recommend an optical smoke alarm to be fitted in a caravan or a mobile home as they are designed to react quickly to smouldering fires, such as from soft furnishings. If you are not using the caravan all year round, we would recommend removing your smoke alarm from your caravan for this period, as the battery may be affected by damp conditions. We recommend you add fitting your alarm at the beginning of the camping season to your pre-camping check list, or keep your smoke alarm with your caravan keys as a reminder the first time you use your caravan in the new camping season.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms & Detection
Carbon monoxide (CO) has no colour, taste or smell and is known as the 'silent killer'. It is very important to have a reliable carbon monoxide detector installed in your caravan and mobile home.
A carbon monoxide alarm detects toxic gases which are caused by incomplete combustion of fossil fuels (gas, oil, coal and wood), which are used in everyday appliances such as heaters, cookers, engines and boilers. It is just as important to have a carbon monoxide detector in your caravan as it is to have a smoke alarm. You should also have any fossil fuel appliance, including cookers and other equipment that run off bottled gas, serviced at the start of the new camping season. CO can be fatal and the only way to detect it is with a CO alarm.
When cooking in your caravan it is important that you never leave your cooker unattended, especially when children are present.
Turn the pan handles away from the edge of the cooker to reduce the risk of the pan being knocked off.
Ensure you have a fire blanket in your kitchen area, especially if you have a chip pan.
Chip pan fires are the largest cause of home fire related injuries in the UK. The main cause of chip pan fires is the overheating of oil and fat which then catches fire. We would recommend that you do not use a chip pan at all. There are appliances that will air fry your food with little or no added oil. This will reduce the risk of a fire in your caravan greatly.
Ensure that there are no curtains, towels or other combustible materials hanging down near your cooker. Keep worktops near cooking equipment free from paper and other sources of fuel.
Electrical Appliances & Safety
Check appliances in your caravan or mobile home as often as possible to ensure electrical wiring is in good order. Ideally it should be tested regularly by a qualified electrician. Never use equipment that has damaged plugs or cables. Always ensure that your cables are not wedged under heavy objects, this could damage the internal wiring and cause a fire.
Make sure all heaters, cookers and TV sets are switched off last thing at night or when leaving your caravan. Never block heaters as it can cause a fire and remember that heaters need air, so open a door or window.
Do not overload electricity sockets and avoid using multi-adaptors. Do not run appliances from a light socket. If you need to use extension cables ensure that they are fully extended, especially if it is a rolled cable within a drum (some drums are specially designed to enable you to use them in the rolled up position, only do this if you are sure that it designed for this purpose, rolled up cables are prone to overheating if not).
Ensure all gas cylinders are kept outside the caravan unless a special ventilated compartment is provided.
Hopefully you will never need to use it but make sure you have an escape plan if the worst was to happen. Ensure you have a secondary escape in case the main door is blocked by the fire, this may be through a window. Teach everyone staying in your caravan your escape plan and how to open the windows etc. If the window cannot be easily pushed open in an emergency, you may want to install an escape hammer next to the window to break the glass, enabling you to escape.
Try and keep calm and get everyone out as soon as possible. Don’t try to tackle the fire. You can prepare for this by having a regular walk through of your escape route so it is fresh in everyone’s mind.
Make sure you keep door and window keys where they can be easily located. It is good practice to have a break glass hammer in your caravan/mobile home in case of an emergency.
If there is smoke then try and keep as low as possible (below smoke layer) as the air is clearer here. As soon as possible call the fire and rescue service and do not re enter the caravan. Always keep your exits clear of any trip hazards to ensure a fast and practical escape.
Always ensure that cigarettes are extinguished correctly and cannot reignite. Do not use plastic ashtrays as they can melt, use metal or glass. Smoking in your bed is very dangerous. If you happen to fall asleep you could easily set fire to your bedding. Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
On chilly nights many campers use electric blankets to keep warm. Make sure you check your blanket regularly for any signs of wear and tear. If, for example, you notice the blanket looking a little frayed or has exposed elements get it checked and either replaced or repaired.
Electric blankets account for over 5000 fires a year in the UK, you can prevent a fire in your caravan and mobile home by checking yours on a regular basis.