It’s a new camping season and time to hit the open road, but don’t forget about RV safety. Safety is paramount when it comes to using and enjoying our RVs. From pre-trip inspections to setting up at the campground and actually using the RV there is always an element of RV safety involved.
Let’s take a look at my top RV safety reminders for a brand new camping season.
First on my list are tires
I could easily write an entire article on this topic alone, but I will try and sum it up in a few short sentences. There are many reasons for tire failure on RVs. In addition to overloaded and under-inflated tires there is concern for the age of the tires. Tires are designed and built to be used. The rubber used in tires ages faster when they are not in use, so more use results in longer tire life.
The problem is lots of RV tires don’t get used as often as the tires on our automobiles do. When tires are manufactured compounds are added to help protect the rubber from weather cracking and damage from the sun. For these compounds to work effectively the tire needs to be rolling down the road, heating up and flexing, so the compounds can work to the surface of the tire and help protect the rubber from damage. When tires sit idle for periods of time they start to dry-out, causing them to age faster.
If your RV tires show signs of weather cracking or, or if the tires are more than 6-years-old you should have them inspected by a tire professional. A simple tire inspection could save you lots of time, money and headaches.
Weight Issues and Concerns
Next on my list are weight issues and concerns. This is another topic I could write an entire book on. Lots of individual tires (and in some cases the entire RV) traveling down the road are overloaded. To avoid becoming a statistic in relationship to overloaded RVs it is important that you understand how to properly weigh your RV. Always keep in mind that weighing your RV is only good for that moment in time.
Weights can and do change according to how you load and distribute the weight in your RV, and based on many other factors. You should get in the practice of weighing your RV periodically to stay within all published weight ratings. When an overload condition exists resolve the problem before using the RV. The easiest way to sum this important safety topic up is to direct you to a site where you can get some great information on RV tires and weighing your RV.
Carbon Monoxide Safety
Possibly most important on my list is Carbon Monoxide safety. Carbon Monoxide (CO) gas is invisible, odorless, and deadly. Carbon Monoxide is created when any fuel is burned; this includes gasoline, propane, natural gas, wood, & coal. It is extremely serious when combustion by-products are not vented outside.
Carbon Monoxide is the number one cause of poisoning deaths in the United States each year. With RVs CO gas can result from a vehicle engine or generator exhaust leak, improper use of portable gas powered heaters, improper adjustment of LP gas fired appliances or from someone else’s vehicle or generator when camping in close proximity to you.
Some important reminders about Carbon Monoxide:
- Inspect the generator exhaust system before using the generator, every time.
- Avoid leaving windows down and roof vents open when in close proximity to vehicle and/or generator exhaust.
- Follow all directions and safety cautions and warnings when operating gas powered heaters.
Never use the range burners or oven to heat the RV.
- When cooking with the range burners use the range fan and always leave a window cracked open for fresh air and ventilation.
- Have the LP gas system inspected by a professional annually, or whenever a repair is made to the system.
- When using a portable generator keep it as distant from the camping area as possible and direct the exhaust away from the camping area.
RV Fire Safety
Another important item on my list is RV fire safety. For starters it’s a good idea to have more than one fire extinguisher available in your RV. I keep an extra fire extinguisher in an outside compartment of our RV just in case.
Try and get in a habit of inspecting your fire extinguishers periodically and before each trip. Look to see if the arrow is pointing in the green area in the sight gauge. If it reads empty or needs charging replace it or have it recharged immediately.
Inspect all components of the fire extinguishers to make sure they are in proper operating condition. Inspect the safety pin, handle or trigger, sight gauge indicator, inspection tag, hose or nozzle, tank, and labeling.
Once a month you should turn dry powder extinguishers upside down, tap on the bottom of the extinguisher and shake it so any powder that settled on the bottom is released. If the powder is packed in the bottom of the extinguisher it may not discharge properly, or at all, when you need it.
Some important reminders about RV fire safety:
- If a fire starts get everybody out of the RV and away from the fire safely and have someone call 911 for help.
- Most importantly, do not risk your personal safety. If you cannot extinguish the fire in the first minute or so let the professionals handle it.
- Remember the word PASS. PASS is an easy way to remember how to use a fire extinguisher, especially during an emergency. PASS stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze and Sweep. Pull the pin, Aim at the base of the fire, Squeeze the trigger and Sweep back and forth until it is extinguished
In the event of a fire always remember you save lives first & property second!
- Test smoke alarms monthly & before each trip.
- Replace the battery in smoke alarms twice a year when you change your clocks for daylight savings time.
- Instruct everybody in the RV on an emergency escape plan in the event of a fire.
- Lastly is your emergency escape plan. What do you do in the event of an emergency and everybody has to get out of the RV quickly and in an orderly fashion. The National Fire Protection agency requires that RVs have emergency escape windows. Make sure everybody knows where the escape window is located and how to use it. It’s a good idea to practice using your escape plan so you are familiar with how to get out of the RV in case of an emergency. You should have an emergency escape plan for the front of the RV and the rear of the RV.
Emergency escape plan safety reminders:
Time is your biggest enemy. It only takes one minute for smoke to fill the RV.
- Design an escape plan specific to the needs of the individuals in the RV.
- Sketch your plan on paper and indicate which windows and doors can be used to escape.
- Review the plan with everybody.
- Instruct people on where the emergency escape window is located and how to use it.
- Practice your escape plan so everybody can get out of the RV in case of an emergency.
- Designate a meeting place outside where everybody will meet.
The more you understand about RV safety the safer your RV trips will be. Review all the safety material in your owner’s manual and on labels posted in the RV.
To learn more about safety concerning RVs check out our RV Safety instant download video.
Mark J. Polk