Steps to safer caravanning
We offer our top tips for all round caravanning safety and security
To an enthusiast, caravanning can be as comfortable as a hotel or luxury self-catering cottage. It is a brilliant way of getting out and about, meeting new like-minded people and meeting up with friends in an atmosphere of conviviality that really gives you the ‘freedom of the open road’.
Is your vehicle up to the task of towing?
You should check that the engine is adequate for towing. Check the brakes are powerful enough to bring the trailer and the car to a halt safely.
Also check that the weight of the loaded trailer does not exceed the towing capacity of the vehicle (this can generally be found in the car’s handbook and should be on the VIN plate).
Be sure you know how to attach your caravan to the towing vehicle safely. Ensure that stabilisers, breakaway cables and lighting cables are all attached. Make certain that the caravan is in a roadworthy condition. The load should be evenly distributed and secure as shifting weight can cause dangerous instability.
Don’t try to cover enormous distances without decent breaks. Fatigue can be a real danger if you have spent too many hours at the wheel. There are signs to warn you. You may feel impatient, you may find your attention wandering, your driving speed may fluctuate and your eyes may become sore.
We reckon three hours’ driving per day is more than enough when you’re towing.
Don’t get put off by the unwanted attention when you’re reversing into a tight spot. OK – it feels as though everyone on the campsite will be watching (and well they might be!), but with a good plan and a slow speed, you should be fine. If possible approach the park from the left so that in reversing you can see the near side of the caravan and its wheels. Stop and have a good look at where the obstacles are: taps, tree branches, annex slabs etc are what you want to avoid! Take your time on everything – and enrol for a refresher towing course if you’re a bit rusty!
Respect the risk of fire
We have seen in tests how with even the smallest fire, a caravan only takes a few minutes to be engulfed in flames. So make sure all fabrics and construction materials have approved fire retardants and the relevant safety marks.
Avoid portable appliances in the caravan because they can fall over easily.
Turn everything off before you go to bed at night.
Make sure you have a fire extinguisher and fire blanket.
Get your appliances and pipes serviced regularly. Don’t try to fix problems yourself unless you are a qualified expert!
If you smell gas, turn off the appliance and the main cylinder valve, open windows and doors. Don’t use naked flames at this time.
- Consider fitting wheel clamps to your caravan to prevent it being stolen. Ensure all windows and doors are locked when it is left.
- Gas cylinders are always an inviting target to a thief. If you have an older caravan, padlock them to fixing clamps so they can’t be removed. On newer models, keep gas compartments locked.
- Secure each corner leg with a padlock with a short shackle, so that it can’t be cut through. If you use a chain, make sure it’s strong – thieves can easily get hold of the right tools to cut through a weak one.
- Lock the coupling head into a cover with a hitchlock. Use lock-nuts on the wheels. If possible, use wired clamps.
- Always close and lock windows when you leave your caravan, even for just a short time. Thieves don’t need long to go through a caravan and their job is made simpler if they can get in easily.
- Fit a special caravan deadlock to the door and make sure you use it so that thieves can’t smash a window and turn the door handle. Also, consider fitting an alarm.
- Fit a time switch. If lights are on while you’re out, the caravan will look occupied and may deter the opportunist thief.
- Try not to leave anything valuable in your caravan. If you have to leave jewellery etc, lock items out of sight.
On a caravan site, for goodness’ sake make an effort to get to know those around you. Then you’ll be more likely to get help if you need it, and can also more readily identify people who may lurk suspiciously on the caravan site, possibly looking to relieve you of your valuables!
The information on this Site is provided on the understanding that GEM Motoring Assist is not rendering legal or other advice. You should consult your own professional advisers as to legal or other advice relevant to any action you wish to take in connection with this website.