Updated February 4, 2017 . AmFam Team
Safety is always important, whether you’re at home or on the road. And as far a fire safety’s concerned, your RV may be a bigger risk simply because there are so many ways problems can surface. So we’ve compiled this helpful guide to make sure both your passengers and RV are well-equipped to set off on your next adventure, in the safest way possible.
Keep recreational vehicle fire safety front and center as you’re preparing for your trip. You’ll have a chance to verify that detectors and extinguishers are operating correctly. But there’s more to fire safety than that. Take a close look at the ways RV owners are helping to keep friends and family safe in the great outdoors. With these key tips on avoiding fires and minimizing RV fire risks, you’ll find more peace of mind knowing your RV is ready for anything.
Because RVs unite both an internal combustion engine and many of the amenities found in a home, fire risks are present across many systems in the vehicle. Most RV fires start either in the engine compartment or within the wheel bearings. And both of these types of fires are most likely to occur when the RV is in motion. So it’s key to remember that fire prevention in the RV starts with a well-maintained vehicle. Take a look at these important RV maintenance tips that can help decrease the likelihood of a fire and keep your vacation on track.
Check your breaks and bearings. On a regular basis, have your RV’s brakes inspected and get the bearings re-packed and lubricated according to your manufacturer’s recommendations.
Inspect all electrical connections. All the bumps and vibrations that accompany traveling in an RV can loosen, fray and potentially lead to electrical issues. Have a qualified RV mechanic routinely inspect your electrical systems to help prevent electrical fires, including 12-volt connections.
Inspect the engine. Tighten hose clamps and belts in the engine compartment. Get a visual on leaks by placing cardboard under the RV’s engine for a few nights. Then, get service on any trouble you uncover before you hit the road for your next camping trip.
Maintain smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Regularly check your smoke alarms, propane, and carbon monoxide detectors and switch out the batteries every spring and fall. Be sure the hardware is RV or marine grade. Batteries should be replaced every six months.
Maintain appliances. Keep your RV’s appliances clean at all times. Open the panels to your appliances frequently throughout the year to make sure there are no debris, critters or loose wires. If you spot anything out of the ordinary, it’s best to call an electrician.
Test the emergency exists. Most RVs have windows that can be used to escape in the event of an emergency. Before heading out to the next national park on your bucket list, look at these emergency exits and verify they’re functioning correctly.
Air the battery. Many RVs use lead acid type batteries, which need to be properly ventilated, as they can emit dangerous gasses. To prevent fires, make sure the battery storage area is open to the outside — whether by vent or by hose. Make sure the battery is well-maintained and properly charged at all times as well.
Get your RV LP-certified. Have a licensed liquid propane (LP) technician inspect and test the propane system for any leaks, and make sure your RV is certified every year. Remember to stay vigilant regarding propane, and if you ever smell propane, leave the RV immediately and contact the fire department.
RVs offer unique camping experiences. At-home conveniences surrounded by wilderness pair nicely and it can be easy to forget about fire safety. Take a look at these simple tips to help keep your RV fire-safe the next time you’re unwinding at a campsite and exploring the nature’s beauty.
Refrain from using extension cords. Although many people do, running extension cords from your RV can lead to trouble. If left out overnight during a storm, you may find the cord is submerged in a body of water, which can quickly lead to trouble. It’s really best to never use extension cords, or if required, be sure they’re heavy duty and you’re not overloading the line.
Use power strips wisely. Be sure you’re not overloading circuits when you’re using power strips. Circuit breakers at the panel can malfunction and wires may then overheat and ignite combustible materials in the walls.
Turn off your LP gas system. It’s smart to turn off the LP before you take off. That way, you won’t have to worry about turning if off when you refuel, drive through a tunnel or take a ferry — and it’s safer all around. If you won’t need it overnight at the campsite, turn it off there too.
Don’t overload circuits. Don’t plug too many things into one outlet, especially things like heaters and fridges. Try to spread the loads out throughout the RV as much as possible.
Keep combustibles away from fire sources. When cooking on the stove, be sure the area around it is clear. Same goes with grills and campfires. Keep card games on the kitchen table and be sure curtains are clear from your cooking area.
Plan smart. Keep several fire extinguishers in the RV or towing vehicle just in case you encounter any small fires that you can put out quickly. Also, in the event of a fire inside the RV, develop an escape plan and communicate it with the rest of your family.
Now that you’ve got a fire safety plan, you’re good to go! If you’re in the market for a new or used RV, be sure you have the rig checked out by a mechanic before you buy. And once you’ve started taking measures to make your RV fire-safe, check in with your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab). Your RV will have the coverage it needs and you’ll feel great knowing that this big investment is well-protected.