Staying safe in the outdoors

It is dangerous to use fuel burning appliances in enclosed spaces such as tents, gazebos and marquees. Each year a large number of people fall ill because of carbon monoxide poisoning after using appliances such as BBQs and gas cookers inappropriately.


Camping is a very popular summertime activity for all the family. However, each year many people make the mistake of bringing a BBQ into their tent at night for warmth or cooking inside a tent. When charcoal burns it produces carbon monoxide. In an enclosed space carbon monoxide can build up very quickly and lead to serious illness, brain damage or even death. It is very important that you never bring a BBQ inside a tent, caravan, motor home or boat, even if it is cold outside. Also make sure that fumes from any nearby source are not able to enter your accommodation, such as from a neighbour’s BBQ or petrol generator.

A smouldering BBQ can still give off dangerous levels of carbon monoxide even after it appears to have gone out so you should still avoid bringing one into an enclosed space even when you have finished using it. You should also never leave a BBQ lit while sleeping. If you are asleep you won’t be able to feel the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning before any real damage is done.

Carbon monoxide can also be produced by gas or petrol burning appliances that aren’t working properly or are being used in spaces without enough ventilation. It is important to avoid using a gas cooker or BBQ in a marquee, poorly ventilated awning or other enclosed space as this could cause carbon monoxide to gather. Make sure that you have your fuel burning appliances regularly serviced to make sure that they are working properly.

Bring an alarm

If you’re going camping, it is important that you bring a carbon monoxide alarm with you. There are lots of heating, cooking and lighting devices that people use when camping that have the potential to give off carbon monoxide and an alarm is the only way to know that you are in danger. Portable carbon monoxide alarms are available from around £15 and can be bought from a number of DIY shops, supermarkets, high street stores, gas suppliers or heating engineers.

When you buy a carbon monoxide alarm, make sure it meets current European safety standards. Look for alarms marked with the ‘EN50291′ standard. This may be written as BSEN 50291 or EN50291 and with the ‘CE’ mark, both of which should be found on the packaging and product. Alarms will have either a Kitemark or Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) logo to show independent testing and certification.