Cover4Caravans » Overwintering your caravan: the 3S’s Storage, Security and Safety

Overwintering your caravan: the 3S’s Storage, Security and Safety

The care you take in preparing your caravan for winter may make all the difference in finding it in good shape and ready to serve you once again once the first rays of spring’s warm sun break the sky.

What is more, it might be easier than you think to ensure that overwintering your caravan is done in the best possible way – simply remember the 3 S’s: Storage, Security and Safety.

Storage

For much of the year, your caravan may have been standing in your drive at home or maybe even parked in a corner of a local farmer’s field ready for the off whenever the caravanning bug take you. It is close at hand, you are able to keep an eye on it, and it is ready and waiting for your next outing.

During the winter months, however, it is unlikely to be going very far at all and might safely be laid up for the duration. That is when your choice of location is likely to be critical to its security and safety during the more punishing weather that winter in this country inevitably brings.

The Caravan Club has published an advice note about winterisation and makes the perfectly sensible – if somewhat obvious – recommendation that you avoid a location underneath trees or close to dilapidated buildings where storm damaged branches may fall or slates and other debris may be blown onto your caravan.

Having washed down the exterior of your caravan to remove bird lime and other damaging pollutants, you may be tempted to keep it as clean as possible by storing it under plastic sheets or tarpaulins.

Most expert advice warns against such a measure because of the very real risk of such airtight coverings adding contributing to one of the worst nightmares for any caravan owner – condensation. Unless the interior remains adequately ventilated, there is a danger of condensation building up and creating the almost intractable problems that may bring in the way of damp and mould, which are not only unsightly but may also pose a health risk and lead to rotting of the very structure of your caravan.

If you insist on storing your caravan with a tarpaulin, therefore, you might want to make sure that it is made from a “breathable” material.

Charcoal, salt or other proprietary granules used for absorbing moisture in the atmosphere may be put in cupboards and wardrobes – with the doors left ajar.

Security

It is in the very nature of the lightweight construction of a caravan that keeping it secure against unwanted intruders may be a more than usual problem. When overwintering, you may ensure that doors and windows are locked, of course, but this is unlikely to provide complete security during times when the caravan is left on its own for long periods of time.

Keeping your caravan away from unwanted attentions and interference, therefore, is more likely to depend on the security of the location at which it is kept.

The level of security which you are likely to be able to provide on your own driveway is typically quite limited – in the corner of a farmer’s field, it is likely to be even less so.

For storage security on which you may be able to rely, there is a network of some 500 purpose designed sites at various locations around the country. Sites are members of the Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Association (CaSSOA), which grades each one according to the level of security offered, through features such as:

  • alarm systems installed;
  • controlled points of entry;
  • perimeter fencing; and
  • CCTV.

Depending on the site you choose, you may even be able to store your caravan under cover – although the locations offering this facility are relatively few and far between.

Rather more certain, however, may be your insurer’s recognition of the enhanced security available at a CaSSOA site to the extent that accreditation may gain significant discounts on the annual insurance premiums you pay.

Safety

Some measures for keeping your caravan safe during winterisation are also associated with the steps you take to improve security.

As a safety precaution, for example, you might want to remove the wheels so that they are not left standing on the same tread of rubber throughout the winter – a precaution that may be especially important if it is parked on hard standing or concrete. Furthermore, by replacing the road wheels with winter wheels, it is possible to buy winter wheels that lock into place, thus preventing the caravan from being able to be towed away.

A further advantage with wheels is that you may have greater confidence in leaving the wheel brakes in the released position, thereby helping to prevent it becoming stuck with the brakes applied.

This may also be an ideal time to check that the hitch coupling is thoroughly cleaned and adequately greased.

The safety provisions you may make whilst preparing your caravan for winter are likely to include checking for gas leaks and the proper functioning of any gas appliances and the safety and integrity of electrical supply lines and equipment.

In the relatively closed confines of a caravan, the safety of any gas installation may be especially important in order to prevent the potentially fatal risk of carbon monoxide poisoning – a risk you may feel to be sufficiently serious to call in an appropriately trained and accredited gas engineer to check over the gas equipment.

Safety against the risk of frozen water pipes and fittings means that you are likely to want to completely drain down the water from heating and hot water systems. It is worth bearing in mind that every last drop of water needs to be drained from such systems, since even a little water left in couplings and valves may cause considerable damage if it freezes.

A useful tip from the company Towsure is to drain down water systems through the main drain plug, but to remember to leave all internal taps fully open so as to avoid the build up of pressure within the pipework.