Ocean Mist

RV Safety Stuff you need to know

Posted by RV Education 101

I think most RV owners go through some type of routine checks prior to taking their RV out for the first time each year. You check the tires, lights, appliances, LP gas and water system. But then a thought occurred to me, I wonder how many people remember to check all of the safety devices on the RV at the beginning of a new camping season?

If the RV sat in storage for several months there is a good chance that dry cell batteries are dead in items like the smoke alarm and that the fire extinguisher could probably use some attention too. If the time ever comes when you need these safety devices you’ll be glad they are in proper operating condition.

Here is a short list of some RV safety stuff you should check on a routine basis:

 LP gas leak detector:

In its natural state LP Gas is odorless, colorless & tasteless. An odorant is added in the manufacturing process to assist you in detecting leaks. If you are not familiar with the odor of LP gas, the next time you go to a qualified fill station ask the attendant to let you smell it. Most people describe the smell as being similar to rotten eggs.

RV’s come equipped with LP gas leak detectors to assist in leak detection. LP gas leak detectors are located close to floor level because LP gas is heavier than air. Before each trip test the LP gas leak detector for proper operation.

If you ever smell LP gas or if the leak detector audible alarm goes off you should:

  • Extinguish any open flames & pilot lights.
  • Do not smoke or touch electrical switches.
  • Evacuate the RV & turn off the main gas supply.
  • Leave the door open & do not return until the odor clears.
  • Have the system checked out by a qualified technician before using it again.

You should take your RV to a qualified RV service center annually to have the LP gas system checked. RV technicians have the proper equipment required to test the LP gas system for leaks and to test and adjust the LP gas operating pressure so the appliances will operate properly.

Fire Extinguishers:

There are many different types and sizes of fire extinguishers, but for the most part they work the same way. Teach everybody to remember the word PASS. This is an easy way to remember how to use a fire extinguisher, especially during an emergency. PASS stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze and Sweep.

P– Pull the pin located at the top of the fire extinguisher.
A– Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire, not at the flames.
S- Squeeze the handle or trigger, standing a safe distance away from the fire. Release the handle if you want it to stop.
S– Sweep the nozzle side to side at the base of the fire until it is out. Observe the fire to make sure it does not re-ignite.

Note: Check the individual fire extinguisher for the distance you should stand from the fire. Different extinguishing agents require different distances.

Fire Extinguisher Maintenance:

Inspect your fire extinguishers every 30 days & 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 extinguisher to make sure it is in proper operating condition. Inspect the safety pin, handle or trigger, sight gauge indicator, inspection tag, hose or nozzle, tank, and labeling. Every 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.

If a Fire Starts in or around the RV:

  • Get everybody out of the RV and away from the fire safely.
  • Have somebody 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.
  • In the event of a fire always remember you save lives first & property second!

Smoke Alarms:

RV’s come equipped with a smoke alarm. In less than 30 seconds a small flame can turn into a major fire & within one minute the RV can be filled completely with smoke. A smoke alarm can save lives. You may want to install additional smoke alarms in your RV.

  • 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.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detector:

Carbon Monoxide 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. Let’s look at what we can do to prevent the danger of carbon monoxide in our RV.

As for RV’s, Carbon Monoxide Gas usually results from:

  • Exhaust leaks from either a vehicle engine or a generator.
  • Improper use of portable gas powered heaters.
  • Someone else’s vehicle or generator when camping in close quarters.

If your RV doesn’t have a carbon monoxide detector you need to purchase a battery operated carbon monoxide detector designed for use in RV’s. Test the carbon monoxide detector every time you use the RV. Replace the carbon monoxide detector batteries (if applicable) when you change clocks for daylight savings time.

Here are some more important notes 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.
  • If you use a portable generator direct the exhaust away from the camping area.
  • Never use the range burners or oven to heat the RV!
  • When cooking with the range burners use the range fan & always leave a window cracked open for fresh air and ventilation.

Learn how to recognize Carbon Monoxide Symptoms: symptoms include:

1) Dizziness
2) Vomiting
3) Nausea
4) Muscular twitching
5) Intense headache
6) Throbbing in the temples
7) Weakness and sleepiness
8) Inability to think coherently

If you or anyone else experiences any of these symptoms get to fresh air immediately. If the symptoms persist seek medical attention. Shut the vehicle or generator down and do not operate it until it has been inspected and repaired by a professional.

View our carbon monoxide video clip

Emergency Escape Plan:

Last but not least we want to discuss a topic many RVers don’t think about, an 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 RV’s have emergency escape (EXIT) windows. Make sure everybody knows where the escape window is located and how to use it. It’s a good idea to practice using it 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.

  • Time is your biggest enemy if there is a fire. 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.
  • Make sure everybody knows where the emergency escape window is located and how to use it.
  • Make sure everybody knows how to use window and door latches before there is an emergency.
  • Practice your escape plan so everybody is familiar with how to get out of the RV in case of an emergency.
  • Designate a meeting place outside where everybody will meet immediately after escaping so you can get accountability.
  • When everybody is safely out of the RV call 911 for help.
  • Never re-enter a burning RV!

These RV safety tips and instrucytion were taken from our RV Safety Features, Tips and Tricks DVD

Happy Camping,

Mark Polk

RV Education 101

RV University

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