Campsite safety

This advice is designed to provide basic guidance to consumers. It is not a complete or authoritative statement of the law.


There are tents to suit all needs. Many retailers offer advice on their websites and have experts in stores.

  • For independent advice there are camping clubs who also provide information and events to help first time campers
  • It is important that you and anyone else who will be using the equipment read the instructions that come with the equipment
  • Instructions are there to keep you, your family and friends safe and will prolong the life of the tent
  • Keep a distance from others. Sites often have minimum distance rules, normally 6 metres apart


  • Ventilation is important in tents. Don't block it up
  • It refreshes the air in a tent that you are breathing especially when sleeping
  • The number of people who will be sleeping in the tent sets the amount of ventilation that must be built in
  • Never be tempted to use cookers, BBQs or disposable BBQs inside a tent or awning
  • Some tents have cooking areas. There will be clear instructions about what precautions you must take
Cooking, BBQ’s and Carbon Monoxide gas (CO)

Open fires

Very few campsites allow open fires. Always ask the site owner.

Charcoal BBQs

Charcoal BBQs give off Carbon Monoxide gas or CO which is poisonous. It is not such problem in the open air because it is dispersed so concentrations are low.

Never use in (or bring them back inside) tents, concentrations build up to dangerous levels and these will start near the ground. Your body can deal with small level CO monoxide but it takes a long time to clear it out. Repeated small exposures to CO can accumulate in your body.

Gas cookers and equipment

Always read the instructions and make sure anyone else who will use the equipment also knows how to use it safely.

Using a gas cooker and lamps in a small tent is like having another person in there, the air gets used up quickly. The appliance can start burning the gas inefficiently producing Carbon Monoxide (CO) which is poisonous.

Despite being flame retardant, modern tent material must be kept away from naked flames.

Check and follow the instructions when changing a gas cylinder. Any leak or spill through joints or perished hoses can linger inside a tent and be accidentally ignited later.

Aerosol cylinder cookers

One type of popular portable gas stove uses aerosol type canisters. It comes in a container and uses aerosol sized gas cylinders.

When in use the pan support or drip tray must be placed the correct side up to avoid a build up of excess heat under the tray. The gas aerosol canister must be the correct type for the appliance and correctly inserted into the relevant compartment. There is lever which pushes the cylinder forward engaging it with the gas system. If the pan support is the wrong way up or the cylinder is not lined up correctly the lever will not go all the way down.

Despite these points being included in the instructions, a number accidents are reported each year.

Aerosol cylinder cooker

With general camping safety rules overlooked at some festivals, and the added influence of alcohol, it’s vital that festival goers consider the risks that can occur as a result of large numbers of tents in close proximity.

Very few festivals allow open fires and BBQs, so it's important to always check the organisers’ websites for advice. Speak to seasoned festival goers so you know what to expect and how you can stay safe.

Further information available from Festival Health (NHS)

Further information

Camping & Caravanning Club

Camping Safety (RoSPA)