Barbecue safety for campers and caravanners

There have been a number of tragic deaths nationally from carbon monoxide poisoning linked to the use of barbecues within tents, camping structures and caravans.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, tasteless poisonous gas produced by incomplete burning of carbon based fuels, including gas, oil, wood and coal. Levels of the gas can build up very quickly to levels that can make someone unwell or result in a fatality.

Approximately 4,000 people attending Accident and Emergency each year are diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning. When CO enters the body it prevents the blood from bringing oxygen to cells, tissues and organs. It can cause symptoms such as headaches, drowsiness, nausea and vomiting. CO can kill in minutes, without warning and even low levels of the poison can cause lasting damage to health.

Campers have lost their lives after taking lit barbecues into tents or caravans for warmth. 

A lit or smouldering barbecue should never be taken into a tent, tent awning, camping pod, caravan or camper van.

Similarly portable gas stoves are not designed to be used inside such structures. They should be kept clean, in good working order and should only be used outside in a suitably ventilated area.

It is tempting to move cooking equipment inside when the weather is poor, but this can quickly lead to a potentially deadly build up of poisonous gas.

Anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to carbon monoxide fumes should seek medical advice immediately.

Where can I find advice on CO?

Go to BBQ safety on the Gas Safe Register website for ways to enjoy BBQ and stay safe.

Read health and safety checklist for Caravan and Campsite Operators for advice on carbon monoxide together with information on other health and safety topics for caravan and camping sites.

Last updated: Wednesday, 24 April, 2024.