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Gas safety in caravans, campers and motorhomes. This link outlines safety checks for caravanners and campers: Checking
gas safety and can be dowloaded as a printable brochure. New South Wales Fires and Rescue have an LPG Safety Checklist.
More about safety can be seen here. Note the following contained within:
After use, turn off the cylinder valve
while the appliance is still operating. Then turn off the appliance valve. This allows the hose to empty of gas.
gas appliances are well ventilated. Never use a portable or unflued gas appliance in a closed tent or van. Build-up of unventilated
flue gases can cause death. See Kleenheat Gas.
Click to read the very real risks of death or brain damage from different
Never use a gas appliance for anything other than its intended purpose (eg never use a gas cooker or oven for
Do not block the vents in the door. These are required by law to allow gas to escape should accidental
leaks occur. A roof vent should also be left open when camped to allow air flow through.
The risks are discussed in a practical
manner at Gas Risk in Caravans. Note the reasons for not using something such as a flowerpot over a gas stove burner as a heating
device. There are more reasons that just the obvious. Even a poorly serviced gas appliance can be a risk. See Elgas
Gas Flame Colour Chart.
The silent killer - Carbon Monoxide.
Be sure to read this page about the
many ways you can be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
It is strongly recommended by gas industry organisations that
gas cylinder valves must be closed when a caravan is in transit. Never use any gas appliance, including a refrigerator, in a moving
Gas fridges and pilot lights must be turned off before entering fuel outlets.
Do not fill a domestic
or caravan gas cylinder with auto gas
Transporting gas cylinders in enclosed vehicles
· For enclosed vehicles a person must not carry a cylinder of more than 30L (13.5 kg) in size.
· 9kg cylinders or larger gas cylinders can only be transported in enclosed vehicles for the purposes of getting the cylinder refilled
(or exchanged). In addition no more than two cylinders may be transported at the one time.
· When you do have to transport your cylinder make sure it is stored securely in an upright position (so it cannot fall over or become
a projectile), is placed in the boot/tray rather than the passenger cabin, and in a way that avoids excess exposure to sunlight or
See Safe transportation of LP gas cylinders
If using a portable gas cooker, ensure that the cylinder outlet is below
the inlet on the stove. As cylinders contain compressed and liquefied gas, if higher some of the liquid can be dispensed resulting
in much too much gas at the appliance which can have disastrous results.
Which gas bottle do I need? See Australian
Gas Bottle Standards for the different grades and most suitable for caravan use.
Most caravans and campers have a battery powered smoke alarm fitted, and many of these can easily by triggered by making toast.
Most other cooking produces steam and does not trigger the alarm.
While caravanners find innovative ways of temporarily
removing the alarm and placing it under a pillow or putting a shower cap over it whilst toasting, a better option is to purchase a
Photoelectric type with hush button. Of course, what ever type you have, regular testing is imperative. These products
are not expensive and do save lives. Remember children may not be woken by an alarm.
For those with impaired hearing
or deafness, alarms with strobe lighting and/or a vibrating pad to be placed under the pillow are available but mains power is generally
required to operate strobe lighting. If you ever camp away from mains power, ensure you have a battery backup. Check with
your states hearing society for types of alarms and any subsidies that may be available on purchase. An example of a mains
power unit with back up battery can be seen at Independent Living Centre NSW
For a summary of Ionisation and Photoelectric alarms
see Fire NSW
Photoelectric smoke alarms
Photoelectric smoke alarms 'see' the smoke. They detect visible particles
of combustion, eg smouldering cigarette smoke. They respond to a wide range of fires, but they are particularly responsive to smouldering
fires and the dense smoke given off by foam filled furnishings or overheated PVC wiring.
Good for smouldering fire
and dense smoke
Not as prone to cooking nuisance alarms as ionisation alarms
Contain no radioactive material
for general use
Slightly more expensive than ionisation alarms
Nuisance alarms can occasionally occur from
dust and insects
They must be kept clean
Ionisation smoke alarms
Ionisation smoke alarms 'feel' the smoke. They detect invisible
particles of combustion, eg from cooking toast. They activate more quickly for fast, flaming fires with little visible smoke.
cheaper than other types of smoke alarms
Very good with fast flaming fires with little visible smoke
Less prone to false
alarms caused by dust and steam
Suitable for general use
Can be susceptible to nuisance alarms if placed
too close to cooking
May be slow to respond to slow smouldering fires
Contain a very small amount of radioactive material
that in New South Wales it is compulsory to have a fire alarm fitted to any portable dwelling where sleeping occurs and this includes
caravans and campers.
Particularly as most caravans have only one door and this is often near the kitchen where a fire is most likely to start, an escape
plan is essential. It may mean kicking out a window and the most capable person jumping then assisting others out. Ensure
every member of your family or touring group knows exactly what to do. Do you have a Grab Bag of essentials like your sateillte
phone and important documents?
Speed of evacuation is essential as a caravan can burn very rapidly, with the potential for smoke
and heat to kill before the flames. Unless fire is tiny and remaining confined, and depending on the cause, do not consider
fighting the fire over leaving for safety.
As smoke is the biggest killer, stay low until getting to the escape point.
A non flammable blanket over the person will help. Burning plastics can be toxic and these may be present in the caravan, made
all the worse by the confined space.
Should clothing catch fire, do not run, but roll on the ground to suffocate and extinguish
Regulations and recommendations with portable gas. Which smoke and fire detectors? An escape plan.