Showing posts with label fire. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fire. Show all posts

The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide when Camping

When you go camping how do you keep warm? We don't have electric hook up and we cook on a gas stove or a fire or a barbecue. But I'm so aware of the risk of fire and the silent, scentless killer that is carbon monoxide that I never bring them inside the tent. We rely on lots of layers, good sleeping bags, and maybe a hot water bottle, recently we have invested in the best heater of all - a puppy!

puppy sleeping

puppy in a tent

puppy sleeping

But two in five campers and caravanners have admitted taking enormous risks with their lives by 
bringing outdoor gas appliances inside as a result of the unpredictable British weather.
Millions are ignoring basic gas safety laws by bringing lit barbecues inside tents, because of the rain 
and in order to stay warm.
A survey of 1,000 campers and caravanners by CORGI HomePlan revealed a shocking lack of 
understanding of the risks involved when using gas cookers, barbecues and heaters - that can all 
emit deadly carbon monoxide, even when flames are out, nearly two thirds of people did not know that CO continues to be produced after a flame has been extinguished.
One in five of those surveyed said that when it rains, they will bring a barbeque into 
their tent or tent porch. This is despite the recent near-fatal incident over the August Bank Holiday, 
which saw a family of five hospitalised in Cornwall after barbecuing in a tent during a downpour.
A further one in five campers keep warm at night by using a smouldering barbecue, 
kerosene heater, patio heater, lit barbecue or gas stove.

And while I wouldn't bring any of these things inside I do think I might fall into the group of people who were confused as to what ‘well ventilated’ is. Nearly half believed it to be a tent with an open door. The reality is fumes can blow from lit and extinguished appliances into - rather than out of - confined spaces, allowing carbon monoxide to accumulate to toxic levels. A reason to ensure barbecues are far from the tent! (Luckily my fear of fire means I keep them far away and also douse them completely with water before I leave them)

“By packing a simple CO detector in your luggage and setting it up in your tent, it leaves you free to 
enjoy a worry-free break.”Mark Leslie, CEO of CORGI HomePlan
For a checklist of how to keep your family safe on a camping and caravanning holiday, visit: Corgi Home Plan and consider adding a CO detector to your camping essentials.

Thanks to Corgi Home plan for the info - I have not been compensated in any way for this post.

Cooking while camping

When I camp I have three main cooking options. I either use my tiny one ring gas stove, my Kelly kettle or a disposable barbecue. I have toasted marshmallows over a real log fire, but I don’t class that as cooking.
open fire camping toasting marchmallows
Cooking outdoors is amazing fun. Even people that never camp sometimes have a summer barbecue because there is something lovely about sitting in the sunshine, or a warm summer evening, smelling the food cooking, sipping a beer…oh I want to be there now!

I am a cheap skate as you all know by now, but I admit that I did crave a Kelly kettle (aka storm kettle) for a long while and was thrilled when DH bought me one for my birthday. The joy of the storm kettle is that you don’t need to buy fuel. You just gather it on your travels and as long as you have some relatively dry twigs, grass or animal dung (yes really!) to get the fire going it’s really great for boiling water. Of course some camp sites and festivals don’t allow them, though I’m never quite sure if it’s an ‘open fire’ or not as it is technically enclosed in the metal walls of the kettle! The premise is simple, the top part of the kettle acts as a chimney to funnel the fire and heat and help the fire burn hot, while at the same time being double walled so the chimney itself is full of water! The water boils very quickly, you can use it and refill it, it’s excellent for getting hot water to cook, wash or clean, even for your hot water bottle. You can also add a pan rest on the top and use it to heat food in a pan. I’ve not yet found this particularly successful but I will persevere. The Kelly kettle is far and away my favourite thing to cook on. Easy to pack and carry, no fuel to tote around and even lights in the rain.

kelly kettle camp cooking storm
My Storm Kettle, balanced on a pan for stability and to protect the grass!
Most people use some form of gas stove to cook on. I like my tiny one ring one. It takes gas canisters that are super easy to slot into place and has various failsafe devices to ensure you can’t use it if the canister is fitted incorrectly. It is just like cooking at home. Except you only have one gas ring. I like its simplicity but remembering to take enough gas can be annoying, wind can mean you use more gas (weather type wind, not your own bean induced flatulence) I have a wind guard to try and prevent that, the cooker is quite large compared to the storm kettle.

full english breakfast camping cooking
A fry up - cooked on two, one ring cookers!
The other option I’ve used is the disposable barbecue, leaving aside the issues around the eco friendliness (or not) of a disposable barbecue it’s great for the new camper or a trial run. Most people have used a barbecue before, you know it takes a while to heat but is great for cooking meat directly on it – no washing up! Or you can use a suitable frying pan etc. Remember to use bricks to raise it off the grass to avoid scorching. You can of course buy reusable barbecues for camping and they come in various sizes and styles. I quite like the look of the bucket ones.

Always remember that however you cook when camping to do it safely. Never cook in a tent. Do not bring a hot barbecue into a tent to warm the tent. Invisible and deadly carbon monoxide can and does kill campers every year. Fire is a real risk in a tent, even a fire retardant one. Cook safely outside and away from the tent.

You can look at a range of cooking options here

And some add-ons I suggest getting, decent cutlery – I used plastic for ages and it’s rubbish, a penknife, a proper camping cook set, a toaster (yes really – it’s my favourite thing), and a wind break for the cooker. Don’t forget a tin opener and bottle opener (or check your penknife has them).

Find some simply awesome cooking and recipe ideas on this brilliant blog.

Time for some cooking - Festivals

I haven't talked much about food have I? Maybe I have, whatever, here is some food chat.

This is primarily festival food chat today, I'll look out some 'proper' food and recipes for another blog post.

At festivals lots of people just don't bother to cook at all. After all, the place is usually full of eating places, and carrying stuff miles to your pitch is a pain, especially if it's heavy, even if you do have a trolley.

Bacon always the best option - Camp Bestival

Curry at the Out of The Ordinary Festival

Cake at Glastonbury
 And from experience taking some beer is nearer the top of the list than cans of soup!

We are over packers!!
 Another thing to consider is if cooking is allowed at all. Many festivals have restrictions on what sort of stoves/fires can be used on site so check before you go!

Camp Bestival for example bans open fires but allows small gas stoves. Wilderness allows enclosed 'real' fires and barbecues and solid fuel stoves, but no gas! And Glastonbury seems to just allow whatever.

Kelly kettle storm kettle cup of tea camping
At the very least I would suggest you need to be able to boil water. The Kelly Kettle is excellent for that if you can get it going, I take some dry kindling and try and collect twigs while I'm wandering the festival. I've also been known to use the pages of a (bad) book.

A small cheap gas stove with a kettle is of course another option.

Lots can be made from boiling water; from an essential morning coffee (using real coffee in bags - I'm not a Philistine) , to a pleasant afternoon cup of tea, to the ubiquitous pot noodle.

There are cup a soups too, and my personal favourite 'instant meal' the porridge pot. Some of the supermarkets also stock their own instant food ranges including instant mash with various flavour editions.

Another good (light to carry) option are packets of crisps, biscuits and breakfast bars. All handy as snacks and first thing in the morning when you are too hungover to stagger to the bacon butty van.

The more adventurous might cook their own bacon but a summer festival, in a tent with no electricity means food won't keep long, even with a cool box.

Which reminds me, coffee whitener is the best option for your coffee, or dried milk powder. You can also buy individual long life milk portions that require no refrigeration (also useful for the more wild camper). Don't forget sugar - I favour taking sugar cubes as you can't make such a mess in the tent, or lose them all in the grass, when you drunkenly spill them.

If you have kids then add a few healthy options too - oranges and satsumas keep quite well, and a banana or two, maybe apples. I've not tried Baby Bel cheeses kept out of a fridge, but they may also be an option. Try keeping food cool using the old evaporation/tea towel trick.

What are your favourite festival snacks?

Fire Safety when camping

One of the things that used to terrify me when I first went to festivals was how close the tents were pitched to each other. Having joined the Camping and Caravanning Club I was all about the 6 metre rule (it's ridiculous really! 6feet would be more sensible) and of course a car between the tents too - all as a fire precaution, no one wants a fire sweeping across a campsite.

Festival camping is much snugger - often tents practically touch! or at the very least are one a guy rope length apart. So fire safety in the tent, always important, becomes even more so!

I have never seen a fire at a campsite or a festival, by the way, so don't get all panicked. With some basic common sense we can all stay safe. Why not involve the kids early in understanding fire safety when camping? At Camp Bestival the Disney Fire and Rescue team were on hand to help! With lots of fun and games and advice. And everyone loves a firefighter!!

So here are some top tips and some fun activity sheets for the children. Stay safe everyone!

  • Never cook in a tent unless the tent is specifically designed for cooking. Never cook in a tent at festivals.
  • Don't use open flames near a tent, leave a big gap if you have a real fire as sparks can travel.
  • Don't use open fires at all if it's windy, or at a festival where tents are close, try and find the designated fire pit - loads of festivals have one, it's safer and more friendly.
  • Never leave a fire, barbecue or cooker unattended.
  • If cooking with gas keep gas bottles safe and secure. Don't change bottles near naked flames.
  • Don't barbecue in a tent, ever, don't barbecue near a tent, don't take warm coals into a tent to keep warm. Charcoal from barbecues gives of carbon monoxide and can kill.
  • Dispose of any hot ash, coal, wood etc safely, ensure fires are properly out - pour water over them.
  • Don't use candles in a tent. If using citronella candles outside to keep insects away, ensure you don't leave them unattended and make sure they are out before you leave them or go to bed.

Camp Bestival - Disney (and Firefighters)

The last movie that DD and I saw at the cinema was Maleficent. It was a Disney movie and we loved it. In April we even went to the home of Disney, in California.

We may not be fans of the princesses , DD favours Belle - as (and I quote DD from a few years back) "She is not a princess and she doesn't need rescuing, she rescues the Beast" , but we love a bit of Disney, who doesn't?!, some escapism, some fun animation and some comedy, a smattering of morals....

And while we haven't really got into the Planes movie I'm still a teensy bit excited to tell you that there will be a Disney area at Camp Bestival. With an interactive Fire Engine! (there may be firefighters...I'm saying nothing and this has no bearing on my excitement*) Because the new Disney movie is Planes 2: Fire and Rescue

When Dusty learns that his engine is damaged and he may never race again, he joins forces with fire and rescue helicopter Blade Ranger and his team, The Smokejumpers, to battle a massive wildfire....


*There will be real firefighters, and games, fancy dress, and all sorts of amazing shenanigans and fun! If you are at Camp Bestival make sure you pop along!!

Planes 2: Fire & Rescue blazes ahead with innovative virtual reality experience touring the UK this summer!

Disney’s highly anticipated new comedy adventure Planes 2: Fire & Rescue flies into cinemas in Scotland on August 1st and across the rest of the country on August 8th - and to celebrate the release, Disney is giving fans the incredible opportunity to ‘Save The Day’ and experience the thrill of being a member of the Piston Peak Air Attack Team. 

The ‘Save The Day’ virtual reality game uses Microsoft’s ground breaking Kinect for Windows v2 technology to put fans right in the middle of the airborne action by becoming firefighting characters Dusty and Dipper, as they race to protect the Piston Peak National Park. Players can take off and enter the heroic world of aerial firefighting as they scout the Park for signs of fire. 

Fans will get an exclusive insider look at all the action of the upcoming film by performing the vital manoeuvers necessary to extinguish blazes, including daring water collection and exciting drops! 

And even if you won't be at Camp Bestival you can join in the fun at other limited venues across the UK -

The ‘Save The Day’ virtual reality game will be placed in foyers of selected ODEON Cinemas and Disney Stores across the country. 

It will also be touring the UK this summer in a special Planes 2: Fire & Rescue fully interactive fire engine which will be visiting airshows and festivals, educating children on the importance of fire safety and featuring a host of fun games and activities for fans to take part in. 

The ‘Save The Day’ Virtual Reality Game will appear in the following locations: 
ODEON CINEMAS (from 21st July): Kingston, Southampton, MetroCentre (Newcastle), Braehead, Trafford (Manchester), LiverpoolOne 
AIRSHOWS & FESTIVALS:: Sunderland international Airshow (26th- 27th July), 
Camp Bestival (1st–3rd Aug) 
Bristol Balloon Fiesta (9th Aug) 
Blackpool Airshow (10th Aug)

Pitching your tent at a festival

So, you have a tent, you have your tickets, you are festival ready! (it's like oven ready but you still have your giblets) Now, where to pitch your tent.

If you have never been to a festival before prepare for a surprise! There is a chaotic free for all when it comes to pitching a tent. No rows, no marked pitches, no 'regulation 6m fire gaps' (oh how I laugh now at how that used to worry me)

There will be walkways and these must be kept clear, they are clearly marked but otherwise you pitch where you can (unless you are are the sort of posh person that paid extra for a marked spot in Camping Plus). So for new festivals try and check a map to get a rough idea of what's where before you go.

Weigh up the pros and cons of different spots, eg

Near the loos - handy if you need to make nighttime or early morning trips, but might leak, can smell, the toilet trucks that do the cleaning may rumble up to work very early
Near the main festival - quick to get to the action, usually a long walk from the car park with all your stuff (use a fesTaxi?) can be noisy, but also you can hear lots of acts from the comfort of your sleeping bag!
Near the car park - Easy to get your stuff to your spot and quick to get pitched, might be busy with families that are too tired to lug everything further, close to the car if you need to nip back, can be a long way from the festival and food stalls.
Near a food stall - great for eating early and late, can send kids as you can watch from the tent, bacon arrives back at the tent still hot, can be smelly, noisy and may be a hangout spot late at night.

So check out the lie of the land, the earlier you arrive the more choice you will have, don't be too picky. Maybe take just the tent on your first trip, lay it out and peg it (pitch it if you can) then go back to the car for the rest of your gear.

If you camp with mates consider using bunting and windbreaks to make a small shared area, but no huge gazebos and don't try and 'own' more than your share, space is at a premium, be nice.

Don't panic if other tents pitch so close they touch yours, it happens, as long as everyone can get their tent pegs in it's all good. Be polite.

I'll see you there, I'll be the one pitched early, drinking beer, midway between toilets and food stall, near the main festival....just past the bottom of the hill.

Live, Laugh, Learn

This post is an entry for the Visit Wales #Wales4Kids Family Holiday Challenge. Wales is the perfect place for a fun-filled family break.

As you know Dear Reader, I adore 'the camping'. I love tents and the wild open spaces..

I love it for many many reasons, it's cheap, it's proper 'feeling alive and at one with nature' (sorry I am a hippy at heart) and it's a great relaxing 'time-free' environment, where one can chill, drink beer, read a book, watch wildlife, snooze...

Or be really active! Run about, build camps, build a fire, catch bugs, damn streams, catch crabs...hang on, this sounds  like things that kids do! Well yes, camping is the perfect time to release your 'inner-child'. Play about, be silly! And it's a great time for children of all ages to try new things and learn some extra responsibilty. Yes, really.

Suddenly washing up is fun in a bucket in a field. Preparing a meal over an open fire is a challenge not a bore, and depending on the age of the child you can almost let them run the place! My young teen camped with her cousins and me last summer. They were happy to take over the cooking for an evening (with minimal supervision) letting us grown ups drink beer relax and enjoy the quiet

So what has camping taught my daughter? Well she has learned the best way to go crab fishing, how to fly a kite, she has learned to light a fire, to toast marsh mallows, to light a camp stove, she has learned how to pick up a toad! And how to wash up in a bucket. How to keep warm in a tent. How to set up a camp bed, how to pitch a tent...

Wales is a full of lovely places to hike and walk. We have holidayed in Wales in cottages before and had great fun but I think maybe we need to try camping there, maybe I will learn things! Like how to pitch a tent on a slope, how to get tent pegs into hard rock, how to keep sheep out of your food stash!

Why not follow @visitwales on Twitter or Visit Wales on Facebook ( I'm sure you'll find some other ideas!

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