A gas stove is an indispensable part of your camp kitchen, whether you’re using an ultra compact hiking cartridge stove or a fully equipped 2 plate table top stove with a full range of accessories. They provide us with tasty breakfasts, warming drinks and satisfying hot dinners whilst we’re enjoying our outdoor adventures. It is, however, important to consider camping stove safety when cooking outdoors so that we can all enjoy accident and injury free trips. Follow these 10 stove safety rules to keep your camp safe:
- Check that your gas bottle or canister is securely installed before use. If you are using a refillable gas bottle with screw thread fittings, make sure any sealing washers are in good, clean condition and carefully screw in fittings to prevent cross-threading and make sure they are properly hand tight. It is important to perform a leak test on connections; simply spread some soapy water around the connection and open the gas bottle’s valve – you shouldn’t see any bubbles if the connection is secure. If you are using a cartridge stove, make sure that you are familiar with the manufacturer’s installation instructions, ensure that the stove’s connector is clean and free from debris and make sure that the connection between the stove and cartridge is firm.
- Place your stove on a stable, flat surface. Whether you are using a hiking stove or 2 plate camp stove, you should always place it on a flat surface to prevent the risk of fire, burns and scalds from knocking over lit stoves or hot pans. This is especially important when camping with young children.
- Ignite your stove carefully and be familiar with your stove’s lighting system. With manual lighting stoves you should slowly turn the gas flow on to a low level and immediately light with a match. Don’t turn the gas flow too high or leave it running for a long time before lighting to prevent burns to your fingers or hand. Piezo ignition stoves generally have two systems, one requires you to slowly open the gas and then push an ignition button, the other will require you to push in the gas flow control knob to fire the piezo whilst turning on the gas.
- Use your stove in a sheltered position away from the wind. Not only will this make your stove more efficient, saving your gas supply, it also reduces the risk of burns or fire from a gas flame pushing out sideways from its usual location.
- When you have finished cooking make sure the flame is extinguished and the gas flow is turned off. Leaving a lit stove unattended or an unlit stove’s gas flowing is a fire risk
- Remove your gas bottle or cartridge when your stove is not in use and store securely. Unless you are using a gas cartridge stove that uses the older piercing system that should never be removed until the cartridge is empty, remove your gas bottle or cartridge when not in use. This prevents your connections getting accidentally knocked and unseated resulting in a gas leak.
- In bad weather, don’t be tempted to cook inside a confined tent and use caution under a gazebo or vehicle awning. When it’s cold and wet you might be tempted to prepare a hot drink or snack inside the shelter of your tent. Don’t do this as your tent is flammable and not suitably ventilated for the fumes from burning gas. Use caution when cooking under gazebos or vehicle awnings too – don’t use gas flames too close to fabric overhangs, uprights or accessory walls.
- Store gas cylinders and cartridges securely and in a cool, dry place. In order to prevent damage, punctures, or leaks, store your gas bottles and cartridges securely where they will be protected from knocks, bumps or falls. This is especially important whilst travelling. Make sure you also store them in a cool and dry place to prevent explosion risk from overheating and damage from rusting.
- Allow your stove to cool thoroughly before handling. This is especially important for hiking stoves which must be properly cool before being disconnected from the cartridge. Ensure all stoves are cold before packing away.
- Keep your gas stove clean and components in good condition so that it’s safe and ready to use the next time you need it.
In addition to these camping stove safety rules, you should also pack some safety measures in your camping gear. Pack a fire extinguisher and/or fire blanket in case of fire and know how to use them – it’s not just gas stoves that pose a fire risk whilst camping, braais and campfires can also be a hazard. Also consider packing burn shields and dressings in your first aid kit just in case the worst should happen and know basic burn first aid. Remember that it’s better to have safety gear and not need it than being caught without it in an emergency!