Using camping stoves indoors can kill, warns fire service as cold weather sets in

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A UK fire service is reminding campers not to bring their portable stoves indoors as winter tightens its grip and many people are looking for affordable ways to stay warm at home. As the Bournemouth Echo (opens in new tab) reports, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service has also cautioned against taking barbecues and patio heaters inside.

“Using camping stoves or barbecues indoors is really dangerous," said a spokesperson. "They are designed to be used outside only, and they can cause carbon monoxide poisoning – even if you have the doors and windows open. It’s the same with patio heaters, they are only suitable to use outside.”

Carbon monoxide is a produced when fuels (which can be solid or gas) don't fully combust. It's invisible and has no smell or taste, but when inhaled, it binds to red blood cells instead of oxygen. In low doses this can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea and drowsiness, and in higher doses it can be fatal as the brain is deprived of oxygen.

In September, two Russian climbers died from carbon monoxide poisoning in their tent during an expedition, as did three people at Hwange National Park (opens in new tab) in Zimbabwe in June.

Staying warm

It's also important to never take your camping stove inside your tent, no matter how cold the temperatures outside – whether it's to cook, or for heat. As Go Outdoors (opens in new tab) advises, if it's raining and you need shelter to cook, it's much safer to do so under a gazebo with sufficient air circulation.

If you're feeling cold in your tent, wrap up with extra layers. If you're camping in the winter, it's worth considering a four-season sleeping bag and camping blanket for extra warmth.

For more information, see carbonmonoxidekills.org.uk (opens in new tab).

Cat Ellis
Editor

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).