Cost seen as deterrent for caravanners

21:27, Feb 24 2013

Caravan owners aren't willing to abide by gas safety standards as it might cost them money, a Timaru certifier believes.

Peter Shaw, a plumber, gasfitter, drainlayer and certifier with more than 30 years' experience, made the comment while giving evidence at a coroner's hearing in Timaru yesterday.

Coroner Richard McElrea is considering the death of 82-year-old Ian Joyce in his caravan at Lake Alexandrina almost two years ago. Mr Joyce died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Mr Shaw said he strongly supported the use of sensors as not everyone realised the importance of ventilation when using LPG appliances. The sensor he had at the hearing, an $80 model, looked much like a domestic smoke alarm. It gives an audible alarm when the carbon monoxide level is well below the danger level.

"For $80 it is not a bad life saver."

But installing a sensor did not get away from the fact that the appliances still needed to be serviced regularly, Mr Shaw said, adding that LPG appliances in caravans and motorhomes should be serviced more regularly than domestic or commercial appliances as they were smaller and more compact.


"Servicing does become a big [safety] factor with mobile homes and caravans."

Mr Shaw said though a certifier had to check caravans and motor homes when new appliances were installed, it was his experience that owners "found it difficult to want to have [their vehicle] looked at and serviced properly. They know the standard is there but they are not prepared to abide by it as it might cost them money."

Mr Shaw referred to cases he had seen where garden hose had been used on gas appliances, rather than the correct hoses and fittings a certifier would insist on.

The Timaru Herald