London Fire Brigade

Caravans, boats and tents

A moored canal barge.

If you live in a caravan, trailer or boat, or use one for leisure purposes, remember to follow all the relevant home safety advice on this website, including fitting smoke alarms. There are also some specific things you can do to protect yourself and your property.

Alternatively, you may be someone who chooses to spend their leisure time boating, caravanning or camping. It is important to think about what the fire risks might be in your new surroundings before heading off for the great outdoors – by putting some simple safety measures in place you can help ensure you enjoy your well deserved break without incident.

Whatever you preferred lifestyle or leisure activity, please ensure you also refer to the information on gas canisters and cylinders as well – the risks associated with these are substantial, which means this information is vitally important in helping you to keep safe. 



  • Make sure caravans are kept at least six metres apart, making it more difficult for a fire to spread.
  • Keep a torch handy for emergencies – don’t use a candle.  
  • Keep the caravan ventilated and don’t block up air vents.  
  • Keep a dry powder fire extinguisher near the main door – it will tackle most small fires. 
  • Find out about firefighting arrangements on the campsite or caravan park and also where the nearest telephone is. 
  • Make sure you know where the fire extinguishers or fire hose reels are on the site along with the location of the fire alarm. If an alarm is vandalised or damaged make sure you report it to the site manager immediately.

Small boats

  • The risk of an explosion is one of the greatest fire hazards faced by boaters. Fit a gas and petrol vapour detector alarm in the bilge and cabin spaces to give you early warnings of dangerous build ups of explosive gases.
  • Learn how to safely isolate the electrical, fuel and LPG installations in the event of a fire or gas leak.  
  • Check that all appliances are turned off and if possible, close the valve on the LPG cylinders before you go to bed or leave the boat. Make sure all gas or liquid fuelled heating, refrigerated or cooking appliances are properly secured to prevent them from overturning. 
  • Don’t over bank solid fuel stoves overnight. 
  • Make a fire escape plan with everyone on the boat. Keep all escape routes totally clear.  
  • For each sleeping position, plan the best escape route and if possible identify a second way out. If the routes are windows or roof hatches, make sure they are big enough and that they open with ease. If they don’t, provide a means to break the glass such as a small hammer. Footholds, ladders or other means of climbing out of the nominated roof hatches must be quickly and easily accessible.  
  • Don’t lock cabin doors or hatches using padlocks on the outside.  
  • Fire extinguishers should be sited where they can be at hand to help you escape.  
  • Ensure the correct fire extinguishers are fitted. More information can be found on the Boat Safety Scheme website (see related links). 
  • Regularly remove rubbish, oil and debris from all areas, especially the bilge. Discard oily waste responsibly. 
  • Create a safe store for goods such as diesel, coal, charcoal, wood paint, solvents, adhesives or paraffin and ensure container lids are tight.  
  • Make sure all materials, i.e., upholstery, soft furnishings, thermal insulation and galley surfaces are fire retardant. 
  • Take note of nearby landmarks that may help you identify your location in an emergency. 

In the event of a fire

  • Get everybody off the boat as quickly as possible.  
  • Call the Fire Brigade – we’ll need your location, use landmarks if you can.   
  • Turn off all gas cylinders valves and close any fuel system valves that are safe to reach. Better still, disconnect and remove the cylinder to a safe place. If you really have to, drop it over the side of the boat.  
  • Warn the occupants of adjacent craft, the harbour, navigation and marina staff as appropriate.

The Boat Safety Scheme website offers further information on boat safety. They have produced a comprehensive guide which includes the boat owner’s responsibilities for keeping their boat safe.


Camping Safety

Fires can destroy a tent in less than 60 seconds and because of the close proximity of surrounding tents, fires can easily spread.

  • Never cook inside a tent. Keep cooking appliances- including BBQs- away from the tent walls, flammable materials, or long grass as they could easily set alight. 
  • Don’t smoke inside tents.
  • Never use candles in or near a tent – torches are safer.
  • Don’t use petrol or paraffin to light a solid fuel stove. 
  • It is recommended to camp away from parking areas to reduce risks from car fires.
  • Campfires constitute a risk of burns, tent fires, and smoke pollution and as such ought to be avoided. 
  • If you are camping on your own land, grass should be cut short to minimise the risk of fire spread.
  • If you are staying on a campsite make sure you know the campsite’s fire safety arrangements and check where the nearest telephone is. 
  • Make sure you know how to escape (by cutting your way out of the tent if necessary).


In the event of a fire

  •  Make sure everyone knows how to put out clothing that’s on fire– stop, drop and roll. 
  • Call the Fire and Rescue Service and give the exact location. Give a map reference if possible, or give a landmark such as a farm or pub.


Gas canisters / cylinders

  • Keep gas cylinders outside your caravan/ tent. 
  • If you are caravanning or camping, store your gas cylinders outside, away from caravans/ vehicles and protected from frost and direct sunlight.  
  • When storing cylinders on a boat, ensure they are either secured on deck, or placed in a properly designed and ventilated container above the water line.  
  • Before going to bed or leaving the caravan or boat, turn off all appliances. 
  • Turn off gas cylinders unless appliances (such as the fridge) are designed to run continuously.  
  • Never use a cooker or heater while a camper or caravan is moving.  
  • Always ensure gas cylinders have adequate ventilation.   Store and install cylinders in an upright position.   
  • Be careful when changing cylinders. Make sure the valve on the (completely) empty cylinder is turned off before disconnecting, and do not turn on the valve of the full cylinder until it is securely connected. 
  • If you suspect a leak, turn off all appliances and the main cylinder valve. Open all doors and windows, do not smoke and do not operate electrical switches. Speak to the warden or site manager and seek specialist advice. 
  • In the event of a fire turn off the main gas cylinder (only if you can get to it safely) and get everyone out straight away. 

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