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Staying safe in your caravan is sure to be one of your priorities and although you may not realise it, the theme of ‘safety’ covers a range of different things when it comes to caravanning!
If you’re thinking of buying your first caravan or you’ve recently made the purchase, you may not be aware of the different safety-related things that you should consider as you kit out your new van and plan your first trip. We’re here to give you all the information you need to ensure you’re well-prepared and above all, safe whilst on your travels!
Making sure your car is large enough to tow the caravan you’re interested in is essential. If you’re looking to buy at the moment, our helpful and knowledgeable team will be able to advise you on this if you need assistance, so please get in touch.
Most cars have a maximum weight they can tow, which can be found in the handbook, online or by contacting your local car dealer. The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) will tell you the weight of your car, and as a novice tower it is recommended that the weight of your caravan does not exceed 85% of the weight of your car.
If you passed your driving test on or after 1 January 1997, you cannot exceed a combined weight of 3,500kg, so note down your maximum combined weight and keep this in mind when browsing possible models. For example, the weight of a Ford S-Max starts at 1,784kg, so that combined with a caravan weighing 85% of that weight would make it a legal post 1997 towing combination. Those who passed their driving test prior to 1 January 1997 are able to tow up to 8,250kg.
Making sure you join your caravan to your car safely and correctly is vital to ensure safe travel. If you’re new to caravanning it’s worth getting your partner or a friend to help you the first few times until you build up some confidence in doing it. Getting the positioning right is important so having someone to help you manoeuvre your car to meet the caravan is ideal.
Ask your helper to guide you to where the hitch is and reverse back slowly. Before you attempt to couple your car to your caravan, ensure the car’s handbrake and the caravan’s hitch brakes are on. Use the jockey wheel to adjust the height of the caravan hitch so that it is higher than the towball before reversing the car a little more into position.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions to couple your caravan to the towball. Many coupling heads have a coloured visual indicator which you must check to confirm the attachment was successful. Hitches with an integral stabiliser are now almost universal and require extra vigilance. Some require a second handle to be operated and may give an audible click on the correct location. Double check that the coupling is fully engaged over the towball, with handles correctly located.
When towing, take the drive more slowly than you would if you weren’t towing. A 30mph speed limit applies on all roads with street lighting (unless shown) when towing, a 50mph limit on single carriageways and a 60mph restriction on dual carriageways and motorways. Towing vehicles are not permitted to drive in the right-hand lane of a motorway with three or more lanes.
Keep in mind that when accelerating it will take longer to get up to speed, so allow yourself more time when overtaking or joining a motorway. Also consider your additional length before pulling away from a junction and into traffic. Remember that you will need around 20% more distance to stop, so brake earlier! At corners or on roundabouts, use your mirrors and take a wider path to enable the trailer to clear kerbs and other obstructions.
Don’t forget to insure your caravan! You’ll need separate caravan insurance in addition to your car insurance to protect it from theft, vandalism and damage whilst stationary or on the move. As with your car insurance there are different levels of insurance and many different providers to choose from - Google ‘caravan insurance’ to find providers that offer caravan cover, or search and compare on comparison sites such as Go Compare, Compare the Market or Money Supermarket if you prefer.
Keeping your caravan secure is extremely important to protect it and to keep you and your family safe. It’s all about making it a difficult target to deter potential thieves. And - having a good security system may well help lower your insurance premiums too!
There are many leisure vehicle security items to choose from so it’s hard to know what to choose! Check out our Top 10 caravan security and safety accessories blog to discover the best options for you.
Ensure you keep the main elements locked and secure when stationary - the hitch, wheels and legs, as well as having a security door lock. You could also consider a security alarm that would alert anyone nearby to any attempted thefts or break-ins.
Health and safety on board
Fire safety equipment is essential to ensure the personal safety of you and your family, as well as the protection of your vehicle. A smoke alarm will alert you to a fire hazard within your caravan and fire extinguishers and blankets could be used to put out small fires quickly, preventing them from causing significant damage. It’s also worth keeping a first aid kit on board to use for any cuts, scrapes and minor injuries - this will be especially valuable if you’re holidaying with kids!
All you need to stay safe
Our on-site accessory shop stocks over 5,000 products - some of which are also available to order online - so we’re sure to have what you need. From accessories and parts for towing, to safety and security, we have it all! Pop in for a browse or give us a call on 01962 714844 to find out if we have what you need.
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