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Do you cook in your tent or awning?

(31 Posts)
millimat Tue 25-Aug-15 19:57:00

Whilst away this year I witnessed a very easy mistake. A family in another tent were cooking inside out. One tiny flame dropped to the ground and despite having a fire blanket ready, the tent burst into flames. It happened very, very quickly and within a minute the whole tent was gone.
Luckily there were fire extinguishers very close, plus other campers got ones from their cars as well. It was handled brilliantly and no one got hurt. It was extinguished before spreading to the next tent. However, very little of their gear was saved - a horrible end to a holiday.
Please don't let this happen to you.

poocatcherchampion Tue 25-Aug-15 21:15:37


Birgitz Tue 25-Aug-15 22:02:44

Scary. I read a story on the BBC yesterday where a couple had put their gone out BBQ in the porch of the tent overnight to stop it getting wet. Sadly the woman died in her sleep in the night from carbon monoxide poisoning as fumes were still being emitted from the BBQ even though it looked completely out. Be careful people.

lavendersun Tue 25-Aug-15 22:11:28

What was the fire source? What sort of tent was it as in what was it made of.

We cook inside in bad weather - always have done, cotton tents, meths stove on an aluminium table with a wool blanket underneath. One of our tent floors unzips to access the ground, the other one doesn't.

I grew up with flames in tents - have always used them respectfully and carefully. Use feuerhand lanterns and uco candle lights, a meths heater and now a wood burning stove.

In the right sort of environment with a bit of thought the risks can be managed effectively. Not for everyone though.

millimat Tue 25-Aug-15 22:19:17

It was a Vango tent - whatever they're made of? Gas canister- they think it wasn't connected properly.

Titsywoo Tue 25-Aug-15 22:25:01

Never because it's bloody dangerous. I always cook several metres away from the tent. I take a gazebo in case of rain. Carbon monoxide can kill and you won't know if the fumes have built up. Bbqs for example emit it for 20 hours after being put out.

Fire is of course another good reason not to. Not worth it.

lavendersun Tue 25-Aug-15 22:34:22

It isn't dangerous if you manage the risks Titsy. Right sort of tent, massively aware, take precautions, think about/manage the risks before they happen, etc., etc..

Almost 50 years on I am here to tell the tale I have a post grad qual from the Institute of Risk Management. I am fairly risk adverse as a person. When I grew up we only had gas lanterns in tents.

Not screwing a gas bottle on properly in a nylon tent however is a death wish. We all know about carbon monoxide and you would have to be completely stupid to to bring your BBQ inside a tent.

Many tents on offer are hermetically sealed these days which is another part of the problem. Synthetic fibres, sealed tent, people who haven't given enough thought to what could go wrong.

Massive sympathies to the people who had their holiday ruined of course but cooking in a tent does not have to equal disaster.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Tue 25-Aug-15 22:38:25

I've cooked in tents with gas stoves for years without problem. Stove is attended 100% of the time.

I refused to allow Dh to use gas hurricane lamps and he was very pissed off about this. He saw no problem with hanging a gas lamp from the ceiling of the Outwell tent while then baby dd slept in the bedroom compartment. I don't see the risk being worth it when there's perfectly good LED lamps.

poocatcherchampion Wed 26-Aug-15 05:09:11

What happened to their belongings? Where did they sleep that night?

millimat Wed 26-Aug-15 07:35:43

They were with other families and I think the campsite owner gave them one of the chalets which was luckily free for the night.Lots of belongings were ruined.

Bellemere Wed 26-Aug-15 17:03:58

We bought a porch to go on our tent - is that not safe for cooking in? We just have a gas stove that uses canisters. The tent is nylon I assume - hi gear kalahari.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Wed 26-Aug-15 17:24:53

I dont think porches are any safer apart from the person cooking in the porch I guess can escape quicker than from a tent (if the door was shut). If a porch goes up in flames the tent will be seconds anyone still in the tent will be in danger.

I do know someone who was asleep in the bedroom compartment when his mate who was cooking in the porch set the whole thing on fire. Bloke didn't have time to get out his sleeping bag and unzip the bedroom door.....thankfully he had a pocket knife and slit a hole in the tent side and rolled out!

HettyD Wed 26-Aug-15 21:18:38

We always cook away from the tent -under a brolley if necessary, never seen the point of risking the health of the family and our tent/belongings...although a really rainy evening I feel is best viewed from inside a pub!!

TiggyD Wed 26-Aug-15 21:26:44

I use a canopy thing just outside the door. I've got a tub style sleeping compartment. You can easily imagine all the heavy gas getting trapped in it.

Blu Wed 26-Aug-15 23:08:11

I don't cook in the tent. Sloping polyester walls, an uneven ground surface , things to trip over, excited kids... I could imagine cooking on a small stove on a broad stable table in the centre of a tent as long as there were no kids around and everyone had a means of escape away from or between between them and the stove.

DS and I always sleep with an open knife by our pillows in case of fire!

I would be happier to cook in a cotton / canvas tent, and we do cook under a tarp, away from the tent, in heavy rain.

But most of our cooking is over the fire anyway, so it's out in the rain or bust!

lavendersun Thu 27-Aug-15 06:49:37

I have had a knife handy in a tent since my guide days - not sure if my group was run by mavericks but we were taught to keep a knife with us to escape a tent. But we had flames in tents then too believe it or not, 6-10 girls in a tent with a gas or hurricane lamp. DH's background means that he has always done the same.

I think that the way we camp these days is so different to how it was 40 years ago - people are now shocked at flames near tents whereas we didn't used to have a choice and for those that grew up with it it is quite normal.

We have taught DD about safety, she knows (at 9) how to move around in a tent with a fire in it, be that meths or otherwise. The main byproduct of burning meths is carbon dioxide, not monoxide.

We are even more careful with the wood burning stove on the go, partly because of the sheer size of the thing.

Appreciate that it is not 'normal' for most people these days though and so it shouldn't be in a synthetic tent with a SIG.

profpoopsnagle Thu 27-Aug-15 16:14:21

I witnessed the fire that millimat saw, and the aftermath and it has changed my mind a bit on things. I always knew that if a tent was on fire then the only thing you can do is to get out- you will not save the tent. But I was shocked at what was left- it was literally nothing.

We never used to cook in the tent (trekking style) but as we've got bigger, family tent we had started cooking in a porch. We now have a trailer tent and there is a dedicated cooking area but things can still go wrong. We have always made sure of ventilation and try t have a door open ready in case we need to get out.

DH said that the gas stove used in this case was a pierce-style one which he thinks is more dangerous than other styles. Of course all gas stoves/open flames and EHU units need to be used with care as any of these may cause a fire.

What I have learnt and will do in the future (and I would urge other campers to consider wherever you cook) -
*buy a fire bucket and fill it up to leave outside my tent. I have read that this is now mandatory for caravan club websites, and it's relatively cheap and easy to do.

*Know where there are extinguishers nearest to your tent. As millimat said all the campers rushed with their own extinguishers or grabbed the campsites. After the fire was out, another camper warned that the fire may reignite and asked anyone to grab further extinguishers to be ready but I hadn't a clue where to find one.

lavendersun Thu 27-Aug-15 17:57:00

Not much could be worse in a tent than a pierced gas thing not attached properly could it really. Another reason I like using meths is that it isn't under pressure.

We have a bucket (probably needs more sand though tbh), an extinguisher that lives half buried in the bucket, either just inside if we are cooking/heating or outside if not, and a fire blanket.

If you buy an extinguisher then you need to keep an eye on the expiry date. The seals on them can weaken and allow the compressed gas to escape. It won't work without enough pressure.

We don't tend to camp at very structured places so the chances of an extinguisher being handy at a time of need is very slim.

What a shock it must have been.

Blu Thu 27-Aug-15 18:05:56

I read an account of a woman injured when one of those stoves, with the pierced cannisters, blew up, and it does sound as if the horrendous fire that Milli and Prof saw was disastrous because of escaped gas rather than just a spark, though I am not confident that the 'fire retardant' status of a polyester tent gives any comfort.

I always keep a fire bucket by our camp fire - for the first time ever this summer, I saw the grass around our fire start to catch fire and spread. I used to go to bed and leave the embers of the fire burning - no more.

Titsywoo Thu 27-Aug-15 18:07:26

lavendersun Thu 27-Aug-15 18:11:07

Is that for me titsy?

Thanks ever so but I have a tent designed for the job.

Blu Thu 27-Aug-15 18:21:52

Bloody hell! So much for that advice from GoOutdoors -

[[ This gas heater is sold by GoOutdoors, in the Questions column GoOutdoors say it is not for in tents, but is an alternative to a campfire. confused. It says 'Do not use indoors' but many people would not count a tent as 'indoors'. And the very second review extols it's use inside a tent...ironically saying how it heated the tent when he was feeling unwell. Probably as a result of the bloody heater......

lavendersun Thu 27-Aug-15 18:46:59

Really Blu - I didn't read it. I don't tend to bother reading much to be honest as we know what works and what doesn't. We wouldn't be here if we didn't by now.

Even our other tent, whilst not a chimney design has three massive vents at ground level, made of cotton and we cook with the doors open.

I guess we all come at this from different directions, what is normal for one person can be crazy by another.

lavendersun Thu 27-Aug-15 18:47:54

meant to say can be considered crazy by another.

Blu Thu 27-Aug-15 19:08:00

Oh, I agree, Lavender - and my outlook - not cooking in the tent - is very much based on having a modest sized polyester tent.

If I had a canvas tent I would probably take a different view...but to have a canvas tent, and especially a stove for it, I would need a different car, a different house (somewhere to dry a wet tent) etc etc.

Also, DS and I don't seem to feel the cold at all so even if I did have a canvas tent I would probably not have a stove in it. We sit out by the fire in most weathers, and cook on it too. It's mostly only my boiled kettle for morning coffee that the stove is used for.

Oh, and a bacon and egg Sunday fry-up. Which I certainly wouldn't do in the tent - grease and smell.

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