It’s not something we as RV owners want to think about, but knowing about fire safety goes a long way in protecting you and your loved ones. According to the National Fire Protection Association, every year, about 6,000 fires happen in an RV, most commonly in the kitchen, engine or wheel area.
Taking simple precautions such as regular maintenance and being mindful of hazards can keep your family safe and your RV in good condition.
Before you even drive your new RV for the first time, fire-prevention tips to follow are
Installing Smoke Alarms and Fire Extinguishers
For RVs less than 21 feet long, one smoke alarm is enough. A second one is good for larger RVs, with one in the bedroom located away from the other one near the kitchen. Keep three fire extinguishers; one in the bedroom, the kitchen, and outside in an unlocked compartment. Make sure everyone in your party knows how to use them.
Also, regularly inspect the smoke, propane, and carbon monoxide detectors before every trip, and on a monthly basis when your RV is not in use. Follow manufacturer’s guidelines when testing.
Check Your Tires
Look for unusual wear patterns and small cracks in the tire sidewalls. If you find some, don’t take a trip until you get it inspected by a professional. Regularly check tire inflation pressure (do it when the tires are cold) and fill or deflate tires according to manufacturer’s guidelines, prior to each trip.
In Case of Fire, Have 2 Escape Routes and a Plan
Make sure everyone knows how to open the front door, hatches, and emergency exits, and make sure all your windows open easily. In the event of an emergency, it’s important to have an escape plan, and that you discuss and practice the plan with everyone.
RV Fire-Prevention Tips While Driving
Turn off the propane at the tank and turn off all propane-powered appliances when driving and when not in use. If your gauge registers out of normal range, stop and get it checked out. Be careful of where you pull over and park. Leave plenty of room between your RV and the next vehicle on both sides. A hot exhaust pipe can also easily ignite dry grass underneath your RV.
At each rest stop, quickly check the tires and feel the hub of each one to make sure they’re not overly hot to the touch. If they are, it indicates a wheel bearing or brake issue, so you shouldn’t continue your trip until the problem is checked by a professional. It’s always a good idea to use a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) so you’re notified if a tire gets too hot.
RV Fire-Prevention Tips While Camping
Clean Up Leaks and Spills Immediately. Gasoline and propane can pose an immediate fire danger; deal with any leaks or spills as soon as you see them. For gas-powered things like lanterns or grills, be sure to handle the fuels in adequately vented areas.
Make sure the power cord connecting your RV to a campground’s electricity supply is in good working order and of a suitable gauge to handle the electrical load. Replace any damaged cords immediately. Always ensure the electrical connections at the pedestal hookup are sound and try not to use electrical adapters or extension cords when making electrical connections. These can result in excessive heat and fires.
Say “no” to power strips inside your RV as they can overload electrical outlets. For extension cords, if you absolutely must use one, make sure it’s heavy-duty or specifically designed for RVs, and that you use it well within its capacity. Do not run any electrical cord under the carpet or floor mats.
Leaks in your propane system that power your refrigerator, furnace, oven, and stovetop can happen, and when they do, the alarm should sound. If it ever does, extinguish any open flames and pilot lights, and avoid touching electrical switches. Get everyone out of the RV and turn off the main gas supply valve. Leave the door open to air out your RV and don’t return until the odor clears. Then have the system checked out by a qualified technician before using it again.
When cooking, never leave an RV stove unattended while in use and don’t keep anything flammable near the burners. Open campfires should be at least 20 feet away from anything that can burn, including your RV. Finally, make sure any campsite fire sources, such as lanterns and Tiki torches are away from the RV as well.