Fire and summer safety advice

Date published: 02 July 2020

There is advice on how to stay safe and be fire aware over the summer months. Relax and enjoy the outdoors, but remember to act responsibly, stay alert to danger, and take fire safety precautions.


Gorse fires

Deliberate fire-setting in the countryside or making hoax calls can have very serious consequences.

Often the dry conditions lead to an increase in the number of gorse fires. Sadly the majority of these fires are caused deliberately.

Everyone is asked to be alert for anyone starting fires deliberately. Any suspicious behaviour should be reported to the police immediately.

When someone starts fires deliberately, they are putting not only firefighters’ lives at risk, but also the lives of everyone in the local community.

Gorse fires can also be caused accidentally by something as simple as:

  • throwing a cigarette from a car window
  • leaving a glass bottle on the ground
  • not putting out a barbeque properly

So be careful and dispose of any litter appropriately.

Avoid holiday complacency

If you’re on holiday, it’s important not to become complacent about your fire safety or indeed general safety.

Whether camping, caravanning, boating or enjoying the countryside, you need to think about your fire safety and the safety of your family.

Make sure you, and the people you are with: 

  • have taken all the necessary steps to make sure that fire doesn’t become your uninvited guest on your holiday
  • know what to do in the event of an emergency

Camping safety

If camping, follow this safety advice: 

  • tents should ideally be pitched at least six metres apart from other tents
  • keep a torch handy - never light a candle or have any kind of flame burning apparatus in or near to a tent
  • keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children
  • always cook outside and well away from your tent - cooking appliances should never be used in small tents
  • don’t cook near flammable materials or long grass
  • store flammable liquids or gas cylinders away from the tent
  • never smoke inside a tent
  • a fire can destroy a tent in 60 seconds, so it's essential you have an escape plan and be prepared to cut your way out of the tent if there is fire
  • make sure everyone knows what to do if their clothes catch fire – stop, drop to the floor and roll to put out the flames
  • if somebody else’s clothes catch fire, tell or force them to drop and try to smother the flames with a blanket or large item of clothing to quell the flames, then get them to roll
  • find out what the firefighting arrangements are in place for the campsite
  • if you do not have a mobile phone then find out where the nearest phone is located

Caravan and mobile home safety

Many of the same rules about fire safety in the home also apply to caravans and mobile homes.

  • park caravans and mobile homes at least six metres apart
  • make a fire escape plan
  • if there’s a fire – get out, stay out and call the Fire and Rescue Service immediately
  • make sure you can get out of a window if needed
  • fit a smoke alarm and test it once a week
  • you should consider getting a fire extinguisher and a fire blanket, and know how to use them properly
  • do not dry clothes on or right next to a heater
  • make sure heaters are working properly – use a Gas Safe engineer to fix gas heaters
  • turn gas off when not in use
  • fit a carbon monoxide detector and keep air vents clear
  • don’t overload sockets - an adapter with a lead is safer
  • smoking inside can be dangerous so smoke outside
  • keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children
  • never leave cooking unattended
  • take extra care when cooking with hot fats and oils
  • never put water on burning oil or fat
  • when not in use, fuel should be stored ideally six metres away from your caravan or mobile home and away from heat

You can find out more about fire safety at these links:

Be safe around water

If you happen to be around water, act responsibly and take all the basic safety precautions.

Be aware that swimming in a river, lake, or the ocean is different from swimming in a pool. You need more energy to handle the currents and other changing conditions, and nobody can anticipate other hidden dangers.

Pay attention to any warning signs or safety flags posted in the area - they are put there for a reason.

Never swim in a disused quarry – it may look inviting but the water is very cold and often filled with hidden obstacles.

Swimming at the beach

  • children should always go to the beach with an adult - an adult can point out dangers and help if someone gets into difficulty
  • when you're swimming at the beach, be aware of which flag is flying as this will warn you of any dangers
  • a red and yellow flag means lifeguards are on patrol
  • a red flag means it is dangerous to bathe or swim, so don’t go into the water
  • a quartered black and white flag means that the area has been zoned for use of surf boards and kayaks and is not safe for swimmers and bathers
  • if you see someone in difficulty in the water, tell somebody, preferably a lifeguard if there is one nearby - alternatively use the nearest phone or your mobile and dial 999

You can find out more about water safety at these links:

Having a barbecue

When having a barbecue:

  • remember, alcohol consumption increases the risk of accidents
  • the barbecue site should be flat and placed away from fences, trees, shrubs and sheds
  • keep a bucket of water or garden hose nearby in case of emergencies
  • never use petrol or paraffin to start or revive your barbecue – use firelighters or starter fuel on cold coals
  • keep children, pets and garden games away from the cooking area
  • never leave a barbecue unattended
  • concentrate on what you're doing - it’s easy to get distracted when you have family and friends around
  • after cooking, make sure the barbecue is cool before moving it
  • even when you have finished cooking the barbecue should remain outside, as it will still give off fumes for some time after use
  • make sure ashes are cold before disposal


If you have a gas barbecue:

  • make sure your barbeque is in good working order
  • make sure the gas tap is turned off before changing the cylinder and always disconnect the cylinder in open air 
  • when you have finished cooking, turn off the gas cylinder before you turn off the barbeque controls – this makes sure any gas in the pipework will be exhausted

You should also never bring a barbecue into a caravan or tent.

Boat safety

Fire can be a dangerous and terrifying event, but its effects become even more serious when escape is either difficult or leads to a place of other danger. Reduce the risk from fire by following these simple tips:

  • fit a smoke alarm
  • make sure furnishings, foam and insulation are fire retardant
  • make a fire action plan and ensure your crew are aware of what to do if there is a fire
  • fit a fire extinguisher in the engine compartment and the cockpit locker
  • contain and vent battery boxes

If a fire happens on the marina:

  • if safe to do so, isolate gas and fuel supplies
  • evacuate the craft and ensure all the crew are wearing lifejackets
  • call the Fire and Rescue Service
  • stay out
  • warn neighbouring craft

If a fire occurs at sea:

  • only tackle a fire if it is safe to do so
  • contact the coastguard or Fire and Rescue Service
  • identify position or give landmarks
  • make sure all crew are wearing lifejackets
  • prepare emergency grab bag (flares, VHF radio, compass) and life raft
  • if safe to do so, isolate gas and fuel supplies
  • do not open the engine panel
  • only as a last resort abandon ship

Don’t let your summer be ruined by fire or tragedy.

More useful links

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