Fire readiness is a vital but often overlooked aspect of caravan safety. Summer can bring significant risk of bushfires in many areas of the country – and a caravan fire can burn quickly once it’s started. Here’s how to make sure you’re prepared.
Before your trip
Check gas appliances. Make sure all your gas equipment is in good working condition. Gas bottles should be fastened securely outside the caravan with the valve facing away from the van. Check gas pipes and connectors regularly to ensure they are in good working order, especially after driving on country roads.
Turn off pilot lights. Ensure gas appliances are fully switched off during towing, and when the towing vehicle’s engine is running.
Pack safety equipment. Bring a portable dry-powder fire-extinguisher and install it near the exit. A fire blanket can shield you from flames and cut oxygen to small fires. Store your blanket close to the exit where it can be easily reached.
Get a smoke alarm. Install the alarm close to sleeping quarters and check its battery regularly – monthly when at home, weekly while on holiday. Get one with a hush button, so you can pause it while cooking.
Work out an escape plan. Develop an evacuation strategy and make sure everyone knows it by heart. Ensure that there is always a clear path to the exit.
Check the weather. Stay up-to-date with weather reports, and heed any fire warnings and fire bans in the local area. Bring a portable radio so you can keep up with local news reports.
At your destination
Know park rules. If staying in a caravan park, find out where firefighting equipment, such as hoses, are located.
Choose a safe spot. If camping off-road, park the caravan in an area that is clear of flammable vegetation such as long grasses and spinifex. Park at least five meters from other vans and ensure that there is an escape route from your caravan.
Secure flammable liquids. Dangerous compounds such as mineral turpentine and spare fuel should be stored outside the van’s main living quarters and well away from inginition sources.
Check underneath. After parking, double-check under the car and caravan for any flammable plant matter.
General safety tips
- Keep heaters away from curtains and internal fittings inside the caravan.
- Never cook with open flames inside tents, annexes or under awnings.
- Never leave appliances unattended while cooking.
- Make sure camp fires are downwind from tents, awnings and annexes, and put them out before you go to bed.
- Never attempt to go back inside a caravan that has caught fire. Instead, dial 000 emergency services immediately.
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
Minor sparks and shorts can be a major fire risk. Make sure your caravan is electrically safe.