RV Interior

RV Fire Safety and Fire Prevention Tips

Updated February 4, 2017 . AmFam Team

Before you set off on your next adventure, brush up on these key RV fire safety tips to keep both your RV and your family safe while on the road.

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.

Recreational Vehicle Fire Safety and Maintenance

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.

RV Fire Safety When You Are Parked or Camping

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.

Related Articles

  • RV's and Boats at a Dock
    RVs and Boats at a Dock
    Recreational Vehicle Insurance: What’s Covered?

    Cruising down the highway on your motorcycle or riding around the lake on your personal watercraft are activities you dream about in the cold winter months. And with warm weather fast approaching, it’s time to get your recreational vehicles tuned up and ready for summer fun. But performing maintenance on your ATV and filling your RV’s gas tank aren’t the only things you need to check off your to-do list — making sure you have the right recreational vehicle insurance coverage is key to protecting the vehicles you work hard for.

    Let’s find out if you have the proper coverage in place.

    Why Do Your Recreational Vehicles Need Coverage?

    Accidents happen — and they can be disruptive and costly. Insurance for your recreational vehicles can help reduce or eliminate your financial burden should the unexpected occur.

    Having insurance for your hobby vehicles — like dirt bikes, RVs, jet skis and ATVs — is part of being a responsible recreational vehicle owner. And knowing you’re financially protecting the things you work so hard for gives you peace of mind as you set out on your adventures.

    Find coverage for things like:

    • Liability protection to help pay expenses associated with things like injuries or property damage
    • Collision coverage to protect against loss or damage to your recreational vehicle
    • Emergency roadside or waterside service for certain vehicles that breakdown
    • So much more!
  • Image of wave runners and boats on a lake at sunset.
    Image of wave runners and a boat on a lake at sunset.
    How to Buy Recreational Vehicles

    You work hard all year long for those precious days in the sun, when you can get outside and enjoy the weather. Maybe you’ve been dreaming about finally buying a recreational vehicle of your own. If you have, you know you’ve got a lot of choices, from campers, travel trailers and ATVs to fishing boats and wave runners.

    Whatever you choose, purchasing a recreational vehicle can be a big investment — and it’s one you should take seriously. One of the best ways to buy is to do your homework first and then narrow down your choices to those that retain their value best.

  • American family Insurance Tips for Renting an RV
    American family Insurance Tips for Renting an RV
    Renting an RV

    When it’s time for your next vacation, you may be thinking about switching things up and renting an RV. Wondering how you can rent an RV? It’s really pretty simple and, in some ways, it works much the same as renting a car. You’ll first fill out an application, either online or at an RV dealer, and they’ll probably need a credit card for a deposit to secure your reservation.

    And much like a car rental, you’ll probably need to meet the minimum age requirement to qualify. But because RVs are more complicated and much larger than a car, you may want to find an RV rental group that offers RV training to new customers before you drive off the lot. Try Googling “where to rent an RV” — you’ll likely find a long list of options and rental groups — then, reach out to those that best meet your needs.

    Not only can renting an RV save you money, but it offers a whole new perspective on vacation travel. Not sure how to get started? That’s why we’re here! Check out our tips on how to rent an RV, so your first RV adventure goes off without a hitch!

  • snowmobiles on a snowy trail at night
    Snowmobile ride at night on a trail during snow
    Snowmobile Buying Guide: What to Look for

    As the leaves fall and the temperature follows suit, our minds drift towards wintry outdoor activities. A snowmobile can be your ticket to a flurry of fun this winter.

    But before you run out and buy a snowmobile, there are a few factors you should consider first. For example, if this is your first time shredding the snow, then you’ll want to purchase a beginner’s snowmobile.

    Here are some tips to help ensure the snowmobile you purchase is the right one for you and your family.