NOT the view you want to be experiencing on your holidays, but sadly MOST fires in caravans are caused by guests.
Please take a read here and take steps to stay SAFE on your holidays:
Most guests will realise that caravans are pretty flimsy, due to the noise-levels from neighbours, especially when the little-ones "delight" in constantly running up and down in the caravan next to yours, which seems like it can be heard all over park during your stay, or how chilly it can become once the temperature drops..... But do you really realise how they are made?
Internally a caravan is just a plywood or a hard board frame, which is then covered in very thin aluminum panels on the exterior. Most just have polystyrene blocks in the cavities as insulation. And that is it!
It can literally take just seconds for the entire Holiday Home to be burnt to the ground.
We can "prove" this, as good ole Als Van had 13 exterior panels replaced way back in 2013. The photo shown is the "work in progress" once the aluminium panels had been removed, so you can clearly see "what's left"!
(Also be aware that this process is not "cheap" (!) ... The cost of these replacement panels was over £7,000 (and that was six years ago) - which is why you may find that owners get just a "little bit cross" when your little-angels decide to play football up against the wall of their caravan!)
What you must remember, is that most caravans are run on LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas), which is very, very different and far more potentially dangerous than the domestic gas you use at home:
- LPG concentrations as low as 2 percent will ignite in air
- LPG is heavier than air and will travel along floors, downhill into gullies and will settle in low spots, which is WHY all caravans have floor-vents: which must never be covered.
- At high concentrations, LPG displaces air to cause asphyxiation.
- The butane component of LPG has the potential to cause toxic effect.
There are steps you can take as either the owner or guest to avoid any fire-related incidents:
- All rented properties MUST have current gas and electrical safety certificates in place. This is annual for gas and 3-yearly for electricity. As a rented property: these safety certificates should be clearly displayed in the Holiday Home. If they are not, it is fully within the guests right to go to the park office or contact their owner and ask to see them.
- Smoke (and CO2) alarms MUST be in the property and MUST be working. Owners should be checking these regularly in-between guests, and it's never a bad idea to leave spare batteries for these at the property. Guests: please don't decide to use any current or spare batteries for the "flashy-toys" purchased during your break, or remove the batteries as the alarm went off when you burnt the toast: These alarms are in place for YOUR SAFETY and could just save your lives if anything did go wrong during your stay....
- NEVER use the oven or the hob as a source of heat. This sounds obvious, but many, many guests seem to think it is an ideal way of "boosting" the heating in a chilly caravan..... Quite simply it is NOT and you are placing your family at risk.
- NEVER leave any gas appliances on unattended. It may seem a good idea to leave the fire on low whilst you go to the clubhouse to do your party-dances, but it's much more preferable to come back to a bit of a chilly caravan and get the heat on, than come back to find Fireman-Sam in attendance. Caravans really don't take that long to warm up. Would you go out for the evening at home leaving the fire on?
- NEVER cover electric heaters, or try to dry clothes on them, unless they are actual "radiators" via the central heating system. Most electric heaters provided will be "air-blown" and are not manufactured to be covered in any way.
- NEVER leave clothes drying in front of the gas fire, as best they will be scorched - at worst you'll have a fire to deal with.
- NEVER have a naked flame burning inside a caravan (candles!) Owners:- leave torches in situ in case of a power-cut.
- All rented properties should now be non-smoking for guests, but if smoking is permitted inside the Holiday Home (rare!) - please be careful! NEVER throw cigarette ends onto outside decking, always dispose of properly and ensure they are not still alight.
- NEVER use a disposable BBQ inside! That may sound ridiculous, but it has been known... also a major risk of carbon monoxide poisoning there.
- If you are permitted to have an outside BBQ - use common sense! NEVER light any kind of BBQ on decking. Find the flattest area possible and as far away from any gas tanks as you can! NEVER leave unattended; you may not have children with you, but other people have:- and the children have a tendency to play all around the Holiday Park and particularly in-between the Holiday Homes.
These are just two examples of how important fire-safety is during your caravan holiday:
This is a VERY RECENT incident, (July 2019), which sadly happened to one of AVMR's pals in North Wales to one in a fleet of their prestige-graded properties....
Regular guests had a BBQ on the decking of the property and left it to "burn-out" on a concrete block, which shifted and caught both the ratten furniture and the decking alight.
Thankfully, the guests were there to deal: if they had gone out for the evening (as most do) - there would have been no caravan to come back to.....
As it stands, they will now have to cover all costs involved, which will not be "cheap" and also has affected all subsequent guests renting that particular property.
This fire was started by a passer-by throwing a lit cigarette end onto the decking, which in turn set light to the patio furniture .... and you can plainly see how that ended up.
Thankfully there was a working smoke alarm in the property and the occupants survived, their dog however was not so lucky due to smoke inhalation.
Please just STAY SAFE during your caravan holiday and be aware of the risks.