The 2019 Insurance Classic Motor Show : Fire safety when touring in your campervan The 2019 Insurance Classic Motor Show : Fire safety when touring in your campervan
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Fire safety when touring in your campervan

A motorhome parked at a campsite at night

When was the last time you checked the electrics in your campervan? Have you tested the smoke detector recently? And do you have a fire extinguisher on board?

These are all questions that will have crossed your mind at some point, but did you take action?

Fires in campervans are extremely rare, but when they do happen they can cause a huge amount of damage. If you have ever lost a campervan to fire or seen one go up in flames, you’ll know just how dramatic, upsetting, and costly it can be.

Figures from Firetrace reveal that 14% of campervan fires start when the vehicle is on the road. And it is estimated if a blaze does start in a camper the average insurance claim is around £19,000.

 

Common causes of fire in a campervan

A lit gas hob in a motorhome kitchen

When it comes to protecting your campervan, as well as having campervan insurance in place it’s a good idea to take certain precautions to reduce the risk of a fire breaking out.

Here is a list of four of the most common causes of fire in campervans. Keep them in mind to keep your campervan safe and sound and free from fire.

 

1 Gas and electrical appliances

Cookers, heaters, and fridge freezers can all be the cause of fires in campervans, but so too can those fairy lights you hung above the bed. It is important that you check all gas and electric appliances annually (however big or small) to ensure they remain in good working order and are not likely to malfunction. A basic gas appliance check is often part of your vehicle’s service, but it’s advised to get a full check once a year in addition to that. It’s worth noting that many campervan insurance policies require you to have an annual service for the policy to remain valid.

 

2 BBQs

Cooking on a BBQ is almost a prerequisite while travelling in your campervan. Not only is it a lot of fun, it also keeps clutter outside your camper. However, it’s important to take a few precautions, too. For example, BBQs need to be at least two metres away from the side of your campervan or awning. And children should not be allowed to play near the BBQ – footballs, bikes and BBQs tend not to mix well. The last thing you need is for a BBQ to fall over and spill its burning embers – at best, you’ll go hungry, at worst, it may start a fire.

 

3 Flat tyres

Flat tyres aren’t just a cause of crashes, they can also cause campervan fires. While a flat tyre is not 100% avoidable, the risk of getting one can be reduced if you take a few precautions. Things to keep an eye on include the depth of tyre tread, age of the tyres, signs of dry rot, any deformation in the rubber, and tyre pressure. You should also regularly check your brakes as these can be the cause of fires, too.

 

4 Blocked exhausts

Finally, keep an eye on your exhaust, especially if your campervan has been in storage or not driven for a long period of time. If a bird or rodent decides to set up home in a cosy exhaust pipe and that goes unnoticed it can result in an engine fire and your campervan to be potentially written off.

 

Fire safety checklist

A red fire extinguisher

It is estimated there are around 225,000 campervans and motorhomes on the UK’s roads.

It is important that every one of those vehicles is kept as safe as possible. To reduce the risk of fire in your campervan, you can follow this simple safety checklist:

 

  • Have an escape plan ready: Your main priority in the event of a campervan fire is to make sure that everyone gets out of the vehicle quickly and safely. Make sure you think about escape routes before you travel and keep exit points inside and outside the campervan clear. Make sure children know what to do in an emergency, too.
  • Know how to use your fire extinguishers and blankets: It’s one thing to have a fire extinguisher and blankets in your camper, but another to know how to use them. Different extinguishers and blankets are suitable for different types of fires (for example, blankets are best to use for cooking fires), so make sure you know how to use them and when. Fire extinguishers and blankets are the kind of camping equipment you hope you’ll never have to use, but it’s best to be prepared.
  • Be mindful of fire risks: Make sure you and your family are fire safety smart. That means not leaving pans or candles unattended, replacing older flammable and potentially toxic soft furnishings from the van, and being mindful of where you smoke. It’s advised to park at least six metres away from neighbouring campervans or motorhomes so keep your distance.
  • Enlist the help of a pro: When it comes to testing and installing electrical appliances, always get the help of a professional. Even low-voltage circuits can cause a fire and it’s easy to make a mistake if you are installing items yourself – for example, even a low-voltage bulb may require a booster when switched on. Every van’s supply will have a maximum load, so overloading appliances could be asking for trouble. If in doubt, call in the experts!
  • Make sure your smoke detector is working: If your campervan isn’t already fitted with a smoke alarm, then you can buy one at most camping equipment retailers. Position your alarm so it’s facing downwards and test the alarm and its batteries regularly. All smoke alarms have an expiry date and will need to be replaced once they pass this. You can even get burnt toast-proof smoke alarms these days, so there really is no excuse for not having one.

 

Travelling in a campervan is a great way to see the world. It makes any holiday fun and adventurous – no wonder they are so popular. Make sure your campervan holiday is all fun and no stress with specialist campervan insurance.

If you are looking to buy a campervan or renew your insurance policy, get in touch with the team at Lancaster Insurance today. We can arrange campervan insurance to suit you and your budget.

Get a quick quote today.

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