Camping should be a fun and safe pastime and generally it is. However there are some Camping Safety guidelines that need to be followed to ensure your camping trip is a safe one. We have found a great article from our friends at Out and About Live, which highlights the dangers of burning stoves or having lanterns in your tent.
Camping Safety: Don’t Make A Dangerous Mistake
“Never, ever use your gas or liquid fuel stove or lantern inside your tent”. It’s sound, sensible advice but most of us have ignored it at some point in some way. The potential consequences are dire with, sadly, death as a real possibility. It’s hard to believe that in the cheery glow and heat of a lantern or stove on a chilly, rainy evening with the tent doors zipped tight and a cosy fug inside. That cosy fug is a lethal threat formed when fuel burns in a space with limited ventilation and oxygen. Poisonous carbon monoxide gas (CO) is an insidious killer unlike the more obvious danger posed by fire in a tent. Unseen, it creeps up on you and your loved ones as it’s colourless and odourless. Symptoms when awake include headaches, drowsiness and sickness. Asleep, the results can be brain damage and death.
A father and son died in the USA after bringing a charcoal grill into their tent for warmth after cooking their meal. As an indicator of the impact of CO in the bloodstream, post-mortem carboxyhaemoglobin (COHb) levels measured 68 per cent and 76 per cent respectively; in the general population, COHb concentrations average only 1 per cent in non-smokers and 4 per cent in smokers. There have been incidents closer to home. In July this year, Vincent Clare was found dead in his sleeping bag during a camping trip in the New Forest. It is thought he was overcome by fumes after lighting a barbecue inside his tent to keep warm. A few weeks later, mother-of-two Tracy Screen died in her tent while she was on holiday in North Wales with her husband and children. Safety experts launched an investigation to establish if fumes from a barbecue found nearby caused her death. And in the latest incident, a family of five was treated in hospital after being exposed to CO poisoning while camping near Newquay. Again, a barbecue found inside their tent may have been to blame.
REDUCING THE RISK
There are around 400 admissions to hospital with CO poisoning for all reasons in England each year and around 40 to50 deaths. Despite sound advice and good intentions, the temptation, at times, to cook inside or use a stove to warm up the tent will be too much to resist. Hours and hours of rain, perhaps, or arriving back at the tent cold and wet after a long walk or bike ride. Bear in mind the following and don’t let convenience or comfort become a killer.
- Only use safe appliances to heat or light your tent; a reliable heater is a modest investment for your safety. Never leave a heater running through the night while you sleep.
- Maintain good ventilation to let oxygen in and counter any potential CO build-up; use your tent’s built-in ventilation options. However, opening tent flaps, doors, or windows may not be enough to prevent the build-up of CO concentrations.
- Get out regularly for a walk in fresh air, which might reveal any symptoms.
- If you started up your stove inside, a yellow sooty flame is an indicator that CO is being formed; a clear blue flame is safer.
- A simmering stove will produce more CO not less.
- Even the smouldering coals of barbecue charcoal will produce CO inside a tent.
Make sure your camping trip is a safe one and adhere to the camping safety guidelines. Please share this with your camping friends and make sure they stay safe too. For more information on camping safety you might want to read our article on the five basic survival skills.