A fire extinguisher is one piece of campervan kit we hope we never need to use. But if you’re safely tucked up in your sleeping bag and suddenly smell burning, you’ll be pleased you packed it.
While fires in campervans are rare, they can strike at any time. And if they do happen, they can cause a huge amount of damage and be a serious threat to life.
Watching your cherished campervan go up in flames is something we hope you’ll never have to experience but campervan insurance can help protect your investment if the worst does happen.
Read our guide on common causes of campervan fires, how to prevent them and what to do if it happens to you.
Common causes of campervan fires and how to prevent them
It’s always better to be safe than sorry. So, take precautions to reduce the risk of a fire breaking out in the first place.
Here are just some of the most common fire hazards to be found in campervans and how best to avoid them.
Open flames – From tea lights to gas hobs, flames left unattended are a recipe for disaster. Fire can take hold at any time day or night and only takes a moment to get out of control. Whether you’re leaving the van for just a few seconds or you’re closing your eyes for a nap, always triple check that a flame is out.
Flammable materials – Any fire needs fuel to keep going and unfortunately campervans can be full of such items. From towels and bedding to curtains and upholstery check whether materials are flame retardant. If they aren’t, either replace them, treat them with a flame-retardant spray or at least keep them well away from any heat source.
Electrical problems – Depending on their vintage, the electrics in your campervan could be quite old and in need of maintenance. As a minimum have your electrical wiring checked on a regular basis. Don’t pack away bedding or clothes where they could damage or squash wiring. Don’t overload plug sockets and make sure you don’t smother your leisure battery – batteries can get hot enough to start a fire.
Barbecues – Van life isn’t complete without a barbeque. But while the food tastes great and it’s a lot of fun, they can easily lead to fire. Never leave one unattended and always make sure barbecues are well extinguished after use. Site your barbeque well away from your camper or awning as fire can easily spread.
Heaters – Portable heaters can cause fires if left unattended. Some heaters can also pose a potential carbon monoxide risk.
It’s worth noting that many campervan insurance policies require you to have an annual service for the policy to remain valid. Make sure this covers your gas and electrical systems.
What to do if a fire breaks out
The most important consideration has to be the safety and wellbeing of the campervan occupants and those nearby.
Following these steps is the best way to ensure everyone’s safety.
Step 1: Get everyone out of the campervan immediately.
Step 2: Move everyone at least 150 feet from the van. Gas canisters and other accelerants can easily explode in a fire.
Step 3: Raise the alarm. Call the emergency services and give clear information about your location, consider downloading the What3Words app on your phone.
Step 4: Alert nearby campers and move other vehicles to a safe distance.
Whatever happens, stay calm. Your campervan and possessions are all replaceable while your life is not!
Essential fire safety kit to pack
There are several essential pieces of kit you’ll need to keep you and your vehicle safe.
- Smoke alarm – To give yourself the best chance of preventing a fire getting out of control requires an early warning system. Provided they’re routinely tested and well sited, smoke detectors have saved many campers from serious harm.
- Fire extinguisher – There are many varieties of fire extinguisher suitable for different types of fires. A good option for campervans is to invest in a solid all-round fire extinguisher suited to most circumstances. Make sure yours is compact, easy to use, well situated near the exit and hasn’t reached its expiry date.
- Fire blanket – To deal with a pan fire, a fire blanket is the safest and most effective tool. They’re also good for clothing fires as the blanket can be wrapped around the person to smother the flames.
How to use a fire extinguisher
Only tackle a fire once everyone is safely out of the campervan and if it’s safe to do so. A fire that has got out of control needs to be dealt with by professional fire fighters.
Assuming you’ve gone through all the steps mentioned above and you can safely try to put the fire out with your extinguisher, follow the PASS technique:
P – Pull the pin.
A – Aim low at the base of the fire, pointing the hose, nozzle or horn.
S – Squeeze the lever (or press the button) to release the extinguishing substance.
S – Sweep from side to side until all the flames are out. Wait to see if the fire reignites. If it does rekindle, then repeat the process again.
If you’re in any doubt as to your safety then get out and stay out. After all, keeping you and your family safe is one of the reasons to have campervan insurance in the first place.
Campervan cover for any eventuality
Whether you’re looking to buy your first campervan or just renewing your current insurance policy, contact Motorhome Protect to find the right cover for your needs.
Our dedicated team will always find the best policy suited to your particular circumstances.
Campervan insurance policies arranged through Motorhome Protect can include the following benefits:
- Cover for up to 365 days a year which can include foreign use
- Cover of camping personal effects for up to £3,500
- Up to 6 months to complete a self-build conversion
- Cover for campervans with a value up to £150,000
- Unlimited EU cover
- Discounts for club members
Get a quick quote today.
Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.