Using electricity while camping or on boats poses particular risks which boaties and campers should be aware of. Connecting recreational vehicles – whether based on land or water – to mains electricity needs to be done carefully as there is a potential for fire and electrocution.
Caravans and motorhomes
Electrical installations in caravans and motor homes must be maintained in a safe condition.
Check for safety
- Always have a current warrant of electrical fitness which is valid for four years from the date of issue.
- Only use approved cords, plugs and sockets to hook up your caravan.
- Only one supply lead must be connected to each site supply socket-outlet.
- Any supply lead between a site supply socket-outlet and your caravan or motorhome should be in one unbroken length.
- The supply of electricity for use in an individual caravan or motorhome should not be obtained from a socket-outlet inside other caravans or motorhomes, or by the use of double adaptors.
- Where a reel, drum, storage box or similar equipment is used for coiling a supply lead, the lead should not be connected to the supply while coiled.
- Residual current devices (RCDs) used for the protection of your caravan or motorhome should be checked for correct operation every time you connect your caravan or motorhome to the electricity supply. They can be checked by means of their in-built test facility. If the RCD does not operate, have it serviced by a licensed worker as soon as possible.
- If you are using a caravan or motorhome at home, get a licensed worker to install the correct socket for the caravan's or motorhome's power supply lead.
- Make sure that the supply box is switched off before connecting your caravan and remember to switch it off and disconnect it before driving off.
- If you want to run appliances in the awning or outside of your caravan or motorhome, always use an RCD or isolating transformer.
- Store power leads neatly rolled, to avoid kinks or damage.
- Always completely uncoil power leads before using them.
- A smell of smoke or fumes when operating electrical systems suggests overloading or overheating.
- Always recognise that a 'tingle' or slight shock is a warning – disconnect the caravan from the supply and have it properly checked by a licensed worker.
Boating and water safety
Whether on the land or in the water, carefully look around and up before raising or moving sailboat masts, oars or fishing poles. A sailboat mast, spar, rigging, antenna or flag mast poses potential danger around power lines. Power lines may cross small bodies of water and launching ramps, so watch out for overhead electric lines near boat docks and piers.
When hauling, docking or transporting a boat, be sure to remove or lower any metal equipment that could come in to contact with power lines.
Electrical installations in pleasure vessels must be installed and maintained in a safe condition and operated safely.
A person, such as marina operator, who supplies electricity to a pleasure vessel, must ensure the vessel is electrically safe by sighting a current Warrant of Electrical Fitness before they connect the supply.
If you are connecting your pleasure vessel to a shore supply, for example at a boating marina, remember:
- Check the value of the low-voltage electrical supply at your berth and whether it is supplied from a shore-side isolating transformer. The frequency of the supply will be 50 Hz.
- Check that the socket-outlet you've been provided with will accommodate the plug on your supply cord and check the maximum available current.
- Where a craft is provided with more than one low-voltage electrical supply, each supply must have the same method of connection: that is, by connection through an isolating transformer with the hull and conductive parts bonded, or by connection without an isolating transformer.
- Take precautions to prevent the supply lead from sagging or from falling into the water. In particular, check that neither end of the supply lead could fall into the water if it should become disengaged.
- Only one craft supply lead should be connected to any one socket-outlet.
- The supply lead should be in one length, and should not be used while coiled.
- The entry of moisture and salt into a craft’s appliance inlet can cause a hazard. Examine it carefully and clean it before connecting to the marina low-voltage electrical supply.
- It is dangerous for unskilled people to attempt repairs or alterations. If any difficulty arises, consult a licensed electrician or, if at a marina, consult the marina management.
- Where a standard extension cord set is used on a marina to provide a temporary supply, its use on a continuous basis is not necessarily safe. This is due to the fact that with continuous movement on a pier, an ordinary flexible cord is not likely to be safe when subject to continuous flexing or other external forces.
Before leaving the marina
- Ensure that the marina low-voltage electrical supply is switched off and that the supply lead is disconnected.
The supply lead should be disconnected first from the marina socket-outlet, and then from the craft appliance inlet. Any cover that may be provided to protect the appliance inlet from the weather should be securely replaced. The supply lead should be coiled up and stored in a dry location where it will not be damaged.