GREAT OUTDOORS

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Camping and caravans

Check out the tabs below for our tips on staying safe and enjoying yourself in the great outdoors! Camping, cooking and caravan safety – the choice is yours!

  • allow at least six metres (18ft) between tents
  • never use candles in or near a tent, always a torch
  • discourage smoking, especially in smaller tents
  • don‘t use cooking equipment in smaller tents
  • make sure everyone knows where the nearest phone is and, if applicable,  the nearest emergency fire point
  • be sure the cooker is stable, out of draughts and somewhere it won’t get knocked over
  • keep flammables (including long grass) away from the cooking area
  • avoid using liquid fuel appliances if possible
  • only change disposable gas cylinders when they’re completely empty
  • never leave a cooker, barbecue, fire, etc burning and unattended, including when you go to sleep.

Caravans are smaller and more confined than houses, with greater fire risks. It’s essential that you install a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide alarm, and follow these precautions:

  • on a caravan site, find out what the fire-fighting arrangements are
  • never leave children alone in a caravan
  • a fully-charged water or dry powder fire extinguisher should be kept in the caravan near an exit door, and a fire blanket should be next to the cooking area
  • keep a torch handy for emergencies and never use candles
  • make sure everyone knows how to use escape windows and doors
  • keep gas cylinders outside the caravan, unless a specially-ventilated compartment is provided.
  • make sure the gas tap’s turned off before changing the cylinder
  • change cylinders outdoors or in a well-ventilated area
  • if you suspect a leak to the cylinder or pipe work, brush soapy water around the joints and watch for bubbles. Tighten to fix, but don’t over-tighten
  • after cooking, turn off the gas cylinder before turning off at the controls to ensure any gas left in the pipe is used up
  • never take a smouldering or lit BBQ (charcoal or gas) into a tent, caravan or cabin. Even if you’ve finished cooking, your BBQ will still give off fumes for some hours after use
  • If using gas cartridges, ensure you use the correct ones for your model of stove
  • never puncture gas cylinders or put them on to an open fire.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide is a highly poisonous gas, created when fuels such as natural gas, wood and charcoal fail to combust fully, due to a lack of oxygen. You can’t see it, taste it or smell it, but it can kill quickly with no warning. For further information see our carbon monoxide page.

Wildfires

Parched ground in the summer is a fire risk, but you should take care year-round. Follow these tips to reduce the chance of a wildfire outdoors:

  • ensure cigarettes are properly put out and can’t reignite
  • don’t throw cigarette ends on the ground or out of vehicle windows
  • avoid using open fires in the countryside
  • don’t leave bottles or glass outdoors – sunlight shining through glass can start fires
  • only use barbecues in a suitable and safe area, and never leave them unattended
  • if you see a fire in the countryside, report it to the fire service immediately via 999
  • don’t attempt to tackle fires that can’t be put out with a bucket of water – leave the area as quickly as possible.

Countryside fire safety

Fire destroys thousands of acres of countryside, open space and wildlife habitat every year. Sadly, many of these fires are started deliberately but, by following a few simple precautions, many others can be prevented:

  • dispose of smoking materials responsibly and make sure they’re completely out. Never throw them to the ground or out of vehicle windows
  • ideally, never have an open fire in the countryside
  • don’t leave camp fires or barbecues unattended, and extinguish them properly after use
  • clear away bottles, glasses and any broken glass to prevent them magnifying the sun’s rays and starting a fire
  • Flames aren’t games – explain to children the personal and environmental dangers of playing with fire
  • if fire breaks out, call 999 immediately. Be clear about your location, mention any landmarks – perhaps a church or pub – and, if phoning from a phone box, stay nearby so you can direct the fire engines to the scene
  • if you can do so safely, prepare for the arrival of firefighters at a pre-arranged meeting point by unlocking gates, etc
  • don’t attempt to fight the fire yourself unless it is very small and can be put out with a bucket of water – grass and crop fires can travel very quickly.
Logo for the Countryside code

The Countryside Code is designed to help us all to respect, protect and enjoy our countryside.

For more information on The Countryside Code, the government website has all the details.

Sky lanterns

Sky lanterns are a beautiful sight – but the potential damage they can cause is significant.

They use the heat of a naked flame to float. They’re not only a fire hazard but also a danger to livestock, agriculture, camping activities, thatched properties and hazardous material sites.

Whilst ignition and launch are mostly in the control of the user, the actual flight path and end destination are not. There’s no guarantee the fuel cell will be completely out and cooled when the lantern lands, so any contact with a flammable surface could start a fire.

There’s evidence of them causing fires, wasting police time, being mistaken for distress flares, misleading aircraft and killing livestock.

We don’t support their use. We urge the public and event organisers not to use them.