Happy Camping - Campsite safety
As the weather warms up and holidays loom, BBQ’s are brushed off, music festival tickets go on sale and many make plans for camping trips. Hampshire’s Trading Standards Service is reminding people to keep their wits about them when it comes to safety.
There are tents to suit all needs. Many retailers offer advice on their websites and have experts in stores.
- For independent advice there are camping clubs who also provide information and events to help first time campers.
- It is important that you and anyone else who will be using the equipment read the instructions that come with the equipment.
- Instructions are there to keep you, your family and friends safe and will prolong the life of the tent.
- Keep a distance from others. Sites often have minimum distance rules, normally 6 metres apart.
- Ventilation is important in tents. Don't block it up.
- It refreshes the air in a tent that you are breathing especially when sleeping.
- The number of people who will be sleeping in the tent sets the amount of ventilation that must be built in.
- Never be tempted to use cookers, BBQ’s or disposable BBQ's inside a tent or awning.
- Some tents have cooking areas. There will be clear instructions about what precautions you must take.
Cooking, BBQ’s and Carbon Monoxide gas (CO)
Very few campsites allow open fires. Always ask the site owner.
Charcoal BBQ’s give off Carbon Monoxide gas or CO which is poisonous. It is not such problem in the open air because it is dispersed and concentrations are low.
Never use in (or bring them back inside) tents, concentrations build up to dangerous levels and these will start near the ground. Your body can deal with small level CO monoxide but it takes a long time to clear it out.
So repeated small exposures to CO can accumulate.
It is believed that CO was a contributing factor in 3 deaths in 2011 and there have been two suspected incidents already in 2012, affecting campers in the New Forest, Norfolk, Swansea, Shropshire and a near miss in Cornwall. In one of the 2011 incidents, a barbecue had been brought just inside the entrance to a family tent on a cold day, unfortunately leading to loss of life.
Gas Cookers and Equipment
Always read the instructions and make sure anyone else who will use the equipment also knows how to use it, safely.
Using a gas cooker and lamps in a small tent is like having another person in there, the air gets used up quickly. The appliance can start burning the gas inefficiently producing Carbon Monoxide (CO) which is poisonous.
Despite being flame retardant, modern tent material must be kept away from naked flames.
Check and follow the instructions when changing a gas cylinder. Any leak or spill through joints or perished hoses can linger inside a tent and be accidentally ignited later.
Aerosol Cylinder Cookers
One type of popular portable gas stove uses aerosol type canisters. It comes in a container and uses aerosol sized gas cylinders.
When in use the pan support or drip tray must be placed the correct side up to avoid a build up of excess heat under the tray. The gas aerosol canister must be the correct type for the appliance and correctly inserted into the relevant compartment. There is lever which pushes the cylinder forward to engaging it with the gas system. If the pan support is the wrong way up or the cylinder is not lined up correctly the lever will not go all the way down.
Despite these points being included in the instructions, a number accidents are reported each year.
With general camping safety rules overlooked at some festivals, and the added influence of alcohol, it’s vital that festival goers consider the risks that can occur as a result of large numbers of tents in close proximity.
Very few festivals allow open fires and BBQ’s, so it’s important to always check the organisers’ websites for advice. Speak to seasoned festival goers so you know what to expect and how you can stay safe.
Further information available from Festival Health (NHS).