It's one of the many joys of a campervan holiday: a hot meal served under the stars and washed down with an ice-cold drink.

Cookers and fridges come as standard in most mobile homes and recreational vehicles, but the fact that they're generally powered by gas causes sleepless nights for some campers.

Learning simple gas safety procedures is as essential to your trip as getting the right campervan insurance.

Read on for our Top 10 Tips on gas safety, so you can head off on your holidays without a care in the world.

 

  1. Familiarise yourself with your gas system

The type of gas used in campervans is usually Liquid Petroleum Gas, or LPG. It comes in two forms: butane, which is normally sold in blue cylinders in the UK; and propane, which is generally in red cylinders.

Some newer motorhomes, however, have gas tanks fitted, which can be refilled much like a petrol tank.

Whatever your system, check you know how to shut off the supply quickly in an emergency.

A gas hob in a campervan

  1. Make sure it's installed correctly

Although the rules are less strict on fitting gas equipment in camper vans than in homes, you still need to take care.

You should get a Gas Safe registered engineer to carry out the installation – better safe than sorry!

If you're planning on hiring out your motorhome, you must stick to the relevant British Standard and get all work done by certified professionals. Make sure you've got the correct campervan insurance, too.

Unlike work vehicles, mobile homes don't have to carry stickers saying they're carrying a small amount of compressed gas, but it can be a good idea.

 

  1. Check all equipment is in good condition

Check cylinders, hoses and connectors regularly to spot any rust, deterioration or loose connections. Replace any parts as necessary.

Hoses should be stamped with the date of manufacture. It's recommended that you replace these within five years.

Gas has a distinctive smell added to it during manufacture to help you spot leaks. If you notice a funny smell, turn every gas appliance off and open windows. Don't switch anything electrical on or off, as this can create a spark.

Above all, don't try to detect the leak by using an open flame! 

Again, it's always wise to get a Gas Safe engineer to check your system over if you think there's a problem, and to carry out an annual service.

 

  1. Take care when changing the cylinder

Assuming your appliances are correctly installed and in good condition, the most dangerous time for gas-related accidents is when you change a bottle.

Read the instructions carefully before you start the process for the first time. It should be straightforward, but remember to keep any candles, cigarettes or other naked flames well away.

The tap on a propane gas cylinder

  1. Ventilate your van

When carrying compressed gas, it's always wise to keep a window open in case of leaks.

LPG gas is heavier than air, so if it does leak, it will pool around your floor. Make sure floor vents aren't blocked with your belongings, and check they're free of mud, snow or other debris. 

In fact, ventilating your van is essential for keeping it in tip-top condition. Make sure you're protected though good campervan insurance, too.

 

  1. Fit a carbon monoxide alarm

Malfunctioning gas appliances can produce carbon monoxide, which is colourless and odourless. In a confined space such as a campervan, levels can quickly rise to lethal – particularly if your van is poorly ventilated.

Carbon monoxide detectors are cheap, widely available, and last for years. There's absolutely no excuse not to have one in your house trailer or mobile home – or, indeed, your home.

 

  1. Turn gas off before you travel

A motorhome travelling up a hill in a mountainous region covered in trees at sunset

You might like the idea of keeping your motorhome fridge running so you can help yourself to a cold drink en route. In many gas systems, however, the cylinder should be turned off while you're driving or at a petrol station.

Vehicle motion can cause appliances and cylinders to move around, putting strain on hoses and connections and potentially leading to gas leaks.

If you're in an accident, a securely shut LPG cylinder is far safer than one with an open connection.

Fridge should stay cool for a few hours' journey even when turned off, so you can still get the driver a refreshing drink.

Prefer to avoid the fuss of turning off all your appliances before hitting the road?

In the last few years, some gas regulators have come onto the market which are designed to be used safely in transit. Check your manuals to find out what type you have.

 

  1. Carry canisters upright

Flammable gases must be carried upright at all times, even when not connected.

Your recreational vehicle or house trailer might also have a gas locker in which you should secure your cylinders with the straps provided.

 

  1. Make sure you've got a fire extinguisher

Your vehicle is probably already fitted with a fire extinguisher, fire blanket and maybe even a fire alarm – but if not, buy them pronto.

Make sure they're in easy reach, and that everyone in your mobile home or recreational trailer knows where they are and how to use them.

A red fire extinguisher

  1. Check additional safety regulations

Depending on where you're travelling, there may well be additional rules.

Some countries, for example, insist you turn off gas supplies before driving through a tunnel. Ferry companies are also likely to demand your gas is turned off before you embark.

There may also be limits on how much gas you can carry, though if you're just travelling for a short holiday, this is unlikely to pose a problem.

Finally, if you want to be ultra-safe, you can follow the British Compressed Gases Association guidance aimed at commercial vehicles. This is "valid" but "not mandatory" for leisure vehicles carrying relatively small amounts of gas, but does include safety tips that might put your mind at rest.

 

Get a quote

A campervan holiday is usually a fun, stress-free experience. But accidents happen, so make sure you've got campervan insurance in place.

Motorhome Protect are experts in searching the market to find you the right deal for your leisure vehicle, whether you're driving at home or abroad.

You can choose from a range of optional extras to make sure you're covered wherever you go.

Contact Motorhome Protect to get a quote today.  

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