Camping and caravanning

If you like to sleep under the stars or in the great outdoors then a camping or caravanning holiday may be your idea of heaven. One of the best ways to ensure you have a relaxing time is to be well prepared and aware of what could potentially go wrong.

The biggest danger in the countryside isn’t usually the risk of encountering wild animals (although it’s worth checking this out) but more mundane injuries from things like falling over tent pegs and burning yourself on an open fire.

Check ahead

Wherever you’re going it’s always a good idea to check how safe the area is you’re travelling to. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office travel advice website can tell you if there are any safety issues in the country you’re visiting and what to watch out for.

Wherever possible stay on regulated camp sites. As well as providing basic facilities there’s no risk of you camping somewhere you shouldn’t or where it may be unsafe. And when it comes to personal safety you shouldn’t do anything on holiday that you wouldn’t do at home.

Having a fire

A warming fire can be fun and romantic but make sure you don’t build it too close to your tent or where you’re sleeping. All it takes is a stray spark to set a tent on fire and if there are other tents close by the fire could spread quickly to these. This is why many campsites have rules on how close tents can be to each other to avoid this happening.

Make sure you build your fire where it’s easy to step away from it without tripping or having to climb over something such as tent pegs or tree stumps. And when lighting a fire take extra care if you are using an accelerant such as meths or petrol as these can ignite very quickly and if you’re not careful you can singe your eyebrows or worse.

If you’re cooking on a barbecue, see our guide for tips on how to use this safely.

Be prepared

If you light an open fire it’s a good idea to keep a bucket of earth, sand or water nearby to put it out when you’ve finished with it or if it gets out of hand.

Accidents are thankfully rare but if you do have one it’s always good to know what to do if you need medical help.

Using a stove

Camping stoves use pressurised camping gas or meths. It’s important to know how your stove works and what combination of equipment can be used. For example, there are different types of gas cartridges for different stoves so you need to know which ones you can safely use.

Check the manufacturer’s guide for what gas canister you need, how to use it safely and how to dispose of it. Two important things to remember are that you should never puncture gas canisters or put used or full canisters onto an open fire.

Carbon Monoxide

Camping stoves and open fires both produce carbon monoxide which can be potentially fatal. Never be tempted to heat up a tent or other enclosed space with either.

If you’re caravanning you should have any gas-powered appliances serviced annually and many people like to have a carbon monoxide alarm inside their caravan.

Water and pool safety

If you’re staying on a campsite where there’s a pool or you’re by the sea make sure everyone in your party, particularly children, is aware of the pool or beach safety rules. You may be staying somewhere there are lifeguards on duty but this is often not the case so you need to take extra care.

Look out for information boards around pools which can tell you where the deep areas are, if diving is allowed and what to do if you see anyone get into difficulty. On many popular beaches there will be information displayed on where it’s safe to swim and what to do in an emergency.

You can find out more about pool safety and beach and sea safety in our guides.