Whether you have a static or a touring caravan, safety is clearly an important consideration. Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is one of the most common fuels used for heating and cooking. The materials used in its construction and the relatively confined space inside any caravan make the risks of fire or asphyxiation from carbon monoxide particular hazards.
Here, then, are some tips and suggestions about maintaining gas safety in your caravan – whatever your level of static or touring caravan insurance, you are still responsible for taking every possible measure to reduce the risks of fire or the escape of poisonous carbon dioxide:
- many safety precautions are a matter of common sense – never search for a gas leak with a naked flame, or smoke whilst changing gas cylinders;
- if you suspect a leak, put washing up liquid on the hose or fitting and watch for air bubbles that help pinpoint the leak;
- preferably, gas cylinders – especially larger ones – need to be kept in a secure on-board locker;
- periodically check the gas supply regulator and the pressure at which it is designed to operate, remembering, too, that hoses deteriorate over time – and then, of course, need to be replaced;
- the Camping and Carvanning Club warns strongly against the use of gas-fired barbeques (fuelled either by the caravan’s supply or an independent cylinder) under the awning of your caravan, because of the risk of fire and often poor ventilation which may encourage a build-up of smoke and carbon dioxide – this may be a particular temptation when attempting to shelter from a typically British summer downpour;
- all of these safety considerations apply equally to the gas you use in your static caravan;
- you might bear in mind, however, the potentially greater and more sustained use a static caravan might experience, so the possibilities of wear, tear and deterioration in supply hoses and fittings may be greater;
- although there is no general legal requirement for an annual gas safety inspection, the National Association of Caravan Owners recommends that one is made and points out that many site owners and managers insist that it is done;
- the important exception to the general rule is if you are letting your caravan to paying guest – the law then typically requires that you arrange for an annual inspection, made by a registered Gas Safe engineer;
- highly toxic carbon monoxide is a peril in both touring and static caravans and a CO detector might be considered a vital part of your safety equipment – and typically is a legal obligation if you let it to guests;
- the escape and build-up of carbon monoxide may result from a number of causes – including, the way gas appliance are being used and the efficiency with which they are operating, inadequate ventilation, inadequate flues, and a lack of routine maintenance and servicing.
Gas safety is a vital consideration for any caravan owner and a failure to take adequate and reasonable steps to use and maintain gas supplies and appliances may seriously affect your caravan insurance cover – or invalidate it altogether.