As with any other equipment that generate heat, camping heaters must be used with care and caution. One kind of camping heater – Propane heaters can be a very safe device if used properly, and can be one of your best friends during your camping trip given the level of comfort it provides.
Upon buying this type of camping heater, first and foremost, check if the heater has been tested and given a seal of approval by a recognized organization/agency. This ensures that the equipment is following the standards for safe propane-reliant products. Make sure to read carefully the instruction manual and safety precautions that comes along with your heater, and use it accordingly.
It is also wise to check your heater before you bring it to the campsite or before use. A good inspection tip is to detect leaks by smell, as propane gas gives off an odor akin to the smell of rotten eggs. Likewise, you can apply soapy water around the connections – a bubbling around the space will indicate a leak.
It is very important that adequate space is left around this camping heater when being used inside the tent. Ideally, the space on the sides should be between 6 and 12 inches, the space above it somewhere between 1 and 4 feet, and the space in front should be at least three feet.
Likewise, adequate ventilation is a must when using propane heaters. Make sure that fresh air still has a way of getting inside your tent. The reason for this is that however safe such camping heaters have become, combustion by propane still produces trace amounts of carbon monoxide (a byproduct). Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning by ensuring proper ventilation in your tent when using your heater. Another important thing to remember is to never, under any circumstances leave the heater unattended or overnight while you sleep. Many propane-based heaters are now equipped with oxygen depletion sensors (ODS) which detects when oxygen levels in a space are beginning to decline, and such heaters are the best ones to use.
If you begin experiencing any signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, the heater must be switched off as soon as possible and people inside the tent must be evacuated to an open space. Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include (but are not limited to) nausea, dizziness, and confusion.
You should only use the propane heater for the purpose that it is intended for which is to provide warmth inside your tent. This should not be used to cook food (or toast bread!), as reading light or to dry wet clothes. When using camping heaters, it is best to err on the side of caution. Also, keep anything that might burn away from it. Keep a good distance between the heater and your clothes, sleeping bag, paper, plastic materials etc. Campers should also make it a practice to elevate the heater using anything stable such as your cooler to lessen the chance of it being toppled over by being kicked.
By putting safety first, you will be able to enjoy your camping more through the peace of mind it brings.