A complete guide to caravan fire safety & protection
Usually, at this point of the summer many of us would find ourselves relaxing on the beach or by the pool in a different country for our summer holiday. Thousands of Brits head to the likes of Spain, Greece and more each year in the search for some sun, but it’s fair to say that the Covid-19 pandemic has stalled many a travel adventure since March 2020.
While some countries have started welcoming British tourists again, for some travellers the confusion of quarantining, testing and the ever-changing red, amber and green lists has meant they’ve opted for a staycation this year.
One industry that has greatly benefitted has been caravanning, with thousands flocking to caravan parks around the country now lockdown restrictions have eased. In fact, according to The Guardian, some within the industry are predicting it to be their busiest year on record.
With many people likely to be going caravanning for the first time, here at Cheshire Fire, we’ve put together a handy fire safety guide outlining everything you need to know for your caravan holiday.
Caravan Fire Safety Tips
So, you’ve got your caravan and you’re ready to head to the park. Before you get going, there are a few things you need to be aware of. First, you need to make sure you have at least one smoke alarm in the caravan. Just like with your home, a smoke alarm is a fundamental fire safety device that’ll alert people to the presence of a fire.
Before you install the alarm, make sure it meets the British Standard of BS 5446 Part 1, EN 54-7. It’s a good idea to test your alarm at least once a week and definitely before a trip.
As well as this, regularly check that all the electrical appliances in your caravan are in good working order. This includes cookers, TVs and radiators. Get a reputable electrician to inspect and test them so you know there are no faults that could spark a fire. At night time, always ensure all appliances are switched off, and never use faulty equipment or overload plug sockets.
If your caravan requires gas, then it’s important to store the canisters correctly. Never store gas cylinders under the caravan, instead, they should be outside at least six metres away and on level ground. It’s also sensible to make sure the connection to and from the gas is secure and it’s properly switched off when not in use. Installing a gas detection alarm can help reassure you that there isn’t a gas leak in your caravan.
Cooking is another big fire hazard in caravans. Never leave your cooking unattended in a caravan and turn all pans inward to avoid the likelihood of them being knocked off the hob. As well as this, always make sure you have a fire blanket in the caravan for cooking emergencies and don’t have any curtains, towels or other flammable objects hanging over the hob.
When you arrive at the park, the positioning of your caravan can also help with fire safety. To prevent the spread of fire, you should always pitch the caravan at least six metres away from your nearest neighbour. Most caravan sites will have measured out the pitches for you in advance, but it’s worth checking if you’re unsure.
What To Do In The Event of a Caravan Fire
In the unfortunate event that a fire does break out in your caravan, the first step is extremely simple. Get out. Make sure you and anyone in the caravan is evacuated as soon as possible, only then should you think about whether or not you can tackle the blaze yourself.
It’s always worthwhile to familiarise yourself and others with the escape route in the event of a fire. If the main exit is blocked by the fire, then you need to have a backup plan in mind. This could be a window or back door. This way, if an emergency does occur, everyone will know what to do and can quickly and safely leave.
Sometimes, if the fire is small enough, you might be able to deal with the fire yourself. However, it’s important to use the correct kind of fire extinguisher. Using the wrong one could exacerbate the situation. There are different fire extinguishers depending on the root cause of the blaze.
If a fire has started due to combustible materials such as wood or paper, then a water extinguisher should be used. This is called a Class A extinguisher and has a red label. If it’s an electrical fire, then you should use a Class B extinguisher that emits C02 rather than water. This is to prevent electrocution and these fire extinguishers are marked with a black label.
For cooking fires, wet chemical fire extinguishers are the way to go. Marked with a yellow label, this Class F fire extinguisher will smother the blaze with a soapy solution that also prevents reignition. Fire blankets can also be used to tackle this type of fire.
How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
If you do need to use a fire extinguisher, then stay calm and follow the PASS method. This is as follows:
P – Pull the pin at the top of the fire extinguisher
A – Aim the nozzle of the extinguisher at the fire, maintaining a safe distance
S – Squeeze the handle of the fire extinguisher to release the extinguishing agent
S – Sweep the extinguisher from side to side, ensuring you cover the base of the flames
If the fire is not extinguishing or is spreading, stop trying to deal with it yourself and call the fire brigade.
Caravan fires are unlikely, but it’s important to know how to handle them if they do occur. At Cheshire Fire, we can provide you with a whole host of fire safety equipment, including fire extinguishers, fire alarms, emergency lighting and more. Operating across Chester, Warrington and other areas in the North West, we also provide fire safety equipment and training to holiday parks across the region. To find out more, get in touch today.