Anyone either owning or using a static caravan should be absolutely clear about gas safety and by a consequence, the dangers of gas in situations where it is being misused.
That may well be a legal requirement in some situations and even where it is not, specialist cover providers, such as Cover4Caravans, might confirm that it is a strict obligation of any existing static caravan insurance. Cheapest approaches with gas appliances and their servicing are simply not worth thinking about.
Here are a few general observations that you might find useful:
- if you are installing new gas appliances, make sure that they meet all EU and UK safety legislation and are so certified. Get them installed only by a Gas Safe registered engineer;
- try to avoid purchasing second-hand appliances. If you do, make sure they are checked over by a Gas Safe engineer and likewise installed;
- if you are a private owner-user, there is currently no legal requirement to have an annual gas safety check, however, it might be highly advisable to do so for the safety of you, your family and any visitors;
- in situations where you are letting your caravan out, you may be legally obliged to have the above-mentioned annual safety check;
- gas appliances can break down and go wrong. Should that happen to you, don’t try and fix it yourself but get a qualified engineer out;
- watch out for warning symptoms with appliances using gas combustion such as cookers or heaters. Examples might include spluttering flames, strange colours in the flames or odd smells. Switch the appliance off immediately and get it reviewed by a professional;
- one of the biggest gas-related killers is carbon monoxide. This is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas that can only be safely detected by installing a carbon monoxide detector. Note this is an entirely different device to a smoke detector, though you can purchase the two together;
- carbon monoxide is a by-product of combustion and it needs to be safely and professionally vented through appropriate flues etc. Note that it does not only arise in the context of burning gas but can also happen in situations where you are burning some forms of solid or liquid fuels such as wood or paraffin;
- don’t make changes to any flues or ventilation in your static unless you are doing so under the supervision of a qualified and registered gas engineer;
- using combustion for heating or cooking also inevitably leads to the dangers of fire. Make sure that you have smoke detectors fitted and that you have some basic fire-fighting materials to hand including fire blankets and extinguishers;
- do not go outside of your caravan leaving young unaccompanied children in the presence of gas appliances that are in use. This is an accident waiting to happen;
- using appliances for any purpose other than that which they were designed for, can be highly dangerous. A classic illustration might be trying to dry wet clothes on top of the gas fire or gas cooker. Another is turning cookers up to high levels to try and generate heat in the room – it’s expensive and is actually not what a cooker is designed for ;
- if you are planning to be away from your static for any length of time, make sure that the gas supply is disconnected at source. The same might also be true for water and electricity. The above ideas might actually be written in as a mandatory condition of any insurance policy you have covering your caravan;
- you should keep a close watch on your health for signs of exposure to fumes. The symptoms might include headaches, drowsiness, lethargy and dizziness. If you have carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, they should activate at threshold levels well below those required to generate some of the above symptoms but even so, keep aware. For example, if you start finding that you are getting headaches when you are using a gas heater, it might be time for an emergency check;
- sniff around when you are outside of your static. Leaks and other problems can arise at points before the gas enters your caravan and any exterior smells of what appears to be gas should be checked out as a matter of urgency. In some cases, that may be the responsibility of the site owners and accept no excuses or delays in getting the exact position identified.
Modern gas appliances, when professionally inspected, installed and maintained, are typically extremely safe and invaluable to modern day caravanners.
Treat any such appliances with respect and you may be unlikely to experience any major problems.