Carry on camping – safely

It is estimated that 1.2 million people in the UK go camping every year. With its world-famous scenery and beautiful beaches, East Devon is a popular destination. If you are planning a camping, glamping or caravanning holiday – either locally or further afield – this summer, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has some timely safety advice.

Would you know how to cut yourself out of a tent in an emergency? And are you aware that carbon monoxide poisoning is a real risk even in an awning?

Staying in a tent poses serious fire and other risks, if you are not clued-up on every-day dangers. The fire service says a tent can go up in flames and be completely destroyed in just one minute.

It advises campers never to use candles – not just inside a tent but anywhere near a tent. Pack a torch instead and make sure you have enough batteries to keep it operating throughout your trip.

In its holiday advice, the service says: “Keep cooking stoves and barbecues away from tent walls as they could easily set alight. Know how to escape by cutting your way out of the tent if there is a fire. Don’t smoke inside your tent.”

Barbecues and stoves should never be used inside or near the entrance to your tent. They produce carbon monoxide which can kill, the service warns.

Poisonous gases from heating equipment can linger for literally hours. The Caravan and Camping Club is so concerned about the danger it has issued advice to all its members. It stresses that carbon monoxide is colourless, odorless and a swift killer.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service says: “Don’t be tempted to cook inside your tent or awning, unless there’s an area specifically designed for this purpose and you’re sure there is adequate ventilation.

“To work safely, barbecues need more ventilation than your tent or awning can provide and there’s also the risk of fire.

“Modern tents are designed as an integral structure with built-in groundsheets and this means that carbon monoxide gases can rise to fatal levels in a matter of minutes – if a barbecue were to be used inside for heating purposes.”

In recent years, coroners have recorded a number of deaths attributed to barbecues being left near the entrance to tents. In one case, a whole family was found unconscious and a teenage girl died.

In another case, a couple on a glamping trip were left unconscious for three days and the male died – again because of a barbecue.

The fire service points out that carbon monoxide detectors commonly used in homes are not designed for conditions in a tent or awning.

It has advice for those planning a caravan holiday too. Tips include testing smoke alarms and removing rubbish to reduce the risk of a fire spreading.

Drying clothes over the cooker is a complete no-no, along with failing to turn off appliances at night.

Make sure you properly ventilate the caravan and check that a fire extinguisher is positioned by the entrance.

As the old adage goes, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Happy holidays!

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