If you're planning an RV road trip, here are safety tips. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that there are about 20,000 RV fires each year. The smaller space in an RV means that a fire can spread fast – sometimes as quick as 30 seconds.
As in a house, most fires start in the kitchen. Don’t leave the kitchen area while you cook. Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stovetop. Avoid cooking on an open flame. Instead, consider using a microwave, crock pot, electric skillet, or coffeemaker.
2. Install smoke and CO alarms
Install smoke alarms near the kitchen and sleeping areas. Also have a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm. Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, and deadly gas. It can result from an exhaust leak in the engine or generator, a leak from another vehicle or generator when camping in close quarters, a faulty propane appliance, or using a propane heater or lantern in an area that’s not well ventilated. Test your smoke and CO alarm batteries twice a year.
3. Keep a fire extinguisher handy
Make sure it’s the kind that uses a dry chemical that can put out electrical and oil fires, the most common RV fires. Check your fire extinguisher monthly to make sure it’s in working order. Consider keeping one outside your RV in case you’re not inside when a fire starts.
Propane fuels your appliances and is highly flammable. Check your lines and tank regularly for leaks and make sure you have a leak detector. Shut off the propane while traveling or when you’re not using it. Clean any spills right away and air out your RV. If you smell propane, check to see if the pilot lights on the stove are out or if the oven was left on. If you can’t find the cause of the smell, open the door and windows, get out, and turn the propane off at the tank.
Have your engine checked regularly by an RV mechanic. You want to catch any problems with fuel, fluid, or electrical lines. If something leaks or shorts out, the heat from the engine could start a fire. Consider a fire suppression system for the engine compartment.
Open all windows to make sure they work in an emergency. Everyone should know two ways out, including using the escape windows. Have a place to meet. Practice the plan.
7. Other tips
- Don’t smoke inside your RV.
- Make sure your RV is at least 25 feet from a campfire.
- Don’t park in tall, dry grass that could catch fire from hot engine exhaust pipes.
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