A guide to fire safety in caravans and mobile homes

6th April 2016

Government figures indicate that there are around 360 caravan fires each year in the UK. Be aware of the risks and follow these guidelines to keep you and your family safe when using your caravan or mobile home.

Choose your campsite with fire safety in mind

Fire safety mostly involves taking basic precautions to prevent the worst from happening. However, in the event of an incident, it’s reassuring to know that you’re in an environment where there are procedures in place to keep matters under control and minimise the risk of fire spreading. This is one of the many reasons why you should choose a well-organised campsite where user safety is taken seriously.

With fire safety in mind, a well-run site should feature the following:

  • Roads, gateways and paths designed to provide adequate access to fire appliances.
  • No caravans standing more than 2 metres from a site road and 50 metres from a public road.
  • A requirement that emergency vehicle routes are kept free from obstruction.
  • No caravan standing more than 30 metres from a fire point.
  • Standpipes with hoses housed in a box and clearly marked “HOSE REEL”, or else fire hydrants installed within 100 metres of every caravan standing, or else water extinguishers or a 500 litre water tank and fire buckets stationed at each fire point.
  • A fire warning system across the site and clear, conspicuous notices setting out the procedure to follow in the event of a fire.

When you arrive, find out where your caravan’s nearest fire point is and familiarise yourself with the site’s fire safety routine.

Position your caravan or mobile home correctly

A responsible site manager will stipulate that each caravan or mobile home must be positioned so there is a 6-metre gap between adjacent units. This is to prevent fire spreading between caravans and to ensure you have a clear evacuation route. Make sure you stick to this 6-metre rule when parking your unit.

If you have an awning, the distance between any part of the awning and a neighbouring caravan should be not less than 3 metres. Make sure your car is parked well clear of caravans and mobile homes and is not obstructing any site roads.

Essential safety equipment

A carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarm are the absolute essentials. Make sure your caravan is fitted with both. At least once a week, test each alarm to ensure the batteries are working. Carbon monoxide detectors have a limited life, usually of between 5 and 7 years, and the replacement date should be on a sticker on the unit. The check button on the alarm relates to the battery only – not the CO monitor function. As such, if you do not know how old your alarm is, you should get a replacement.

You may also want to equip your caravan with a fire blanket, which should be kept in the kitchen area, and a powder fire extinguisher which should be kept by the entrance. Make sure you know how to use both. They should only be used to bring very small, localised fires under control. Bear in mind that fires in caravans and motorhomes can spread very quickly. Rather than tackling a spreading blaze, your priority must be to get everyone out straight away.

For further guidance and support, check out our video guide to caravan safety.

Preventing fire in your caravan or mobile home

  • Ensure all air vents are kept clear.
  • Switch off heaters, cookers, TVs and other appliances before going to bed or when leaving the caravan.
  • Do not use multi-adaptors as these can be easily overloaded and do not run appliances from light sockets.
  • Never leave a cooker or hob on unattended.
  • Do not leave children unattended in the unit. Keep matches and lighters out of their reach and turn pan handles inward so they cannot be overturned by children.
  • Sweep the caravan floor regularly.
  • Do not store fuel containers in or under your unit. Place your LPG gas bottle on level ground outside and away from heat sources.
  • In the event of a suspected gas leak, turn off the main cylinder valve and all appliances. Open all doors and windows. Do not smoke or turn on any electrical switches until you have been given the all clear.
  • Do not use any fuel-burning devices (e.g. barbecues and camping stoves) inside the unit.

Plan your evacuation route

It might be a compact space, but an emergency situation in a caravan (especially in the dark) can give rise to confusion and panic. Make sure everyone is clear on the escape route if the worst should happen. Keep door and window keys in a fixed place, close at hand. It is also useful to have a break glass hammer available. Keep the exit route clear of trip hazards, which means not blocking it with bags and shoes.

To find out more about how to shield your caravan with cover for accidental damage – including fire damage – speak to a member of our friendly UK-based team today on 0800 393 966 or request a callback for a time that’s convenient for you. Get a quote and tailor your policy today and get the right level of static caravan insurance from Shield.

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