By John Lynch, general manager, Business Support Services, Wormald
When booking holidays and packing up the car, campervan or caravan for a much needed trip away, the last thing on many people’s minds is fire safety. Have the correct smoke alarms been installed? Is there a portable fire extinguisher or fire blanket on board? What about the evacuation plan?
It is almost a year since the NSW Government introduced changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation and announced that smoke alarms must be installed in all new and existing moveable dwellings where people sleep. This includes caravans, campervans, holiday vans, park van annexes and associated structures, and also applies to mobile homes travelling through NSW from other States and Territories.
I hope this encourages people across the region to think twice about fire safety when holidaying and to be aware of the legislation in each country, State or Territory. The dangers presented by small campervan kitchens, small appliances and gas cookers are often overlooked; but with most domestic fatal fires occurring when people are asleep it makes sense for smoke alarms to be installed in every dwelling, regardless of whether they are mobile or permanent.
If there is a fire in a campervan or caravan, there may just be a few seconds to escape so the warning a smoke alarm gives can mean the difference between life and death.
As well as having a smoke alarm installed, it’s important to keep a regular check on the batteries to ensure they are in proper working order. Although not compulsory, I’d also recommend having a fire extinguisher and fire blanket for extra protection.
I have my own caravan which I use regularly for family holidays. We make a conscious effort to frequently check smoke alarms and make sure the fire blanket and fire extinguisher are where they should be.
Fire safety should really be part of our every day lives whether we’re at home, at work or on holidays. But, unfortunately, time and time again we see the consequences of people making simple mistakes that affect their level of protection.
The NSW Fire Service has developed a handy fact sheet for holiday camping and caravan fire safety – click here. If you have any thoughts on how to be fire safe while on holidays, please feel free to share.