The use of an RV is a full time job that needs to be taken seriously. Typically a home on wheels, it is necessary to take the same precautions as you would in your car and with your home. Here are a few reminders to keep in mind before and during your time on the road:
Before You Go
Check your RV. Check the engine oil, transmission fluid, vehicle battery, coolant level, tow bar, windscreen wipers, tires, lights, etc.
Check your RV appliances work including propane system, electrical system, water system, LP gas system and RV generators. If necessary get them checked by a certified technician before heading out on the road
Test drive your RV if it's been a while since you have driven it. Take a test drive to get yourself re-acquainted with the driving techniques. Try reversing, slowing down, lane changes etc.
Bring safety equipment. In case of fire, or in need of medical assistance carry onboard a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit. Check out Camping first aid kit essentials.
Warning! As well as hazard lights it is essential to have warning devices stored in your RV in case of an emergency stop or breakdown in the middle of no-where
Get insurance. Just like any vehicle and home, if something happens that is unforeseeable then you will need either compensation or protection against the event that had occurred. See our article on How to get the best RV insurance deal.
Do some research and have some knowledge about the area(s) you plan to visit. Are there any particular dangers, such as certain animals, plants or insects that you might encounter? Are there seasonal dangers of which you should be aware? Before you leave home, do some Internet research and call the park rangers or the campsite(s) you plan to visit to find out.
Pack essentials. See our article What to bring with you on a RV trip.
On the Road
Drive safely. Sounds simple, but usually it's hard to obey.
- Never drive over the speed limit
- Be cautious of other drivers
- Do not tail gate
- Use your mirrors and turn signals before moving into other lanes
Keep checking your RV. Being given the green light does not relieve you from making regular checks while on the road. Regularly check your tire pressure - at least one under-inflated tire will eventually lead to the other tires becoming flat and will increase chances of tires coming apart. Under-inflation can be due to overloading, punctures with nails, air leakage through the valve cap or by natural leakage of air.
- Rest when not driving
- Switch drivers every few hours
- Check driver's alertness and attitude regularly
- Take regular stops along the way and let all passengers in the RV stretch their legs
At the Campground or RV park
Obey the rules
- Always use marked RV campsites
- Park on the flat and level where possible put one or more blocks around the wheels to stop any rolling
- Read and follow the campground/RV park policies and recommendations
- Never leave food out overnight
Work with the weather. In cold weather, park the RV where it will be protected from north and west winds. In hot weather, use natural shade, awnings and canvas covers to protect you from the heat.
Keep an eye on your campfire. A campfire is a fun part of camping, but a fire that gets out of control can be extremely dangerous. Make sure your campfire is always attended to and build it in a suitable area at a safe distance from your tent. See our article on how to safely build a campfire.
Dispose of trash properly. Disposing of your trash properly helps ensure a safer campground for you, future campers and the campground's wildlife. If available, remember to recycle and never leave any trash behind in your site when you leave.
Beware when encountering wildlife. Depending on where you are camping, be aware of the threat posed by bears and other wild animals. Ask the park ranger about wild animals in the area.
Keep your campsite free of food scraps and odors. Pack food in a bear-proof locker or canister overnight. If none are available, then keep it in your RV in a sealed container and keep your windows closed. Never feed or approach a bear. Use a flashlight at night as many animals feed then and the use of a flashlight may warn them away.
When Out and About
Be prepared for changes in the weather. Even if it's summer, in some areas, particularly mountainous ones, the weather can change suddenly and dramatically. Bring warm and waterproof clothes.
Beware of poisonous plants. Common plants to be wary of are poison oak, sumac, and ivy. By familiarizing yourself with what these look like before you go, this will help you avoid them. Show your children pictures of them too. If in doubt, avoid touching any unknown plants.
There are products you can apply to your skin before going into the woods. If you come into contact with a poisonous plant, immediately rinse the affected area with water and apply a soothing lotion (such as calamine lotion).
Beware of environmental dangers. Excessive heat and sun can cause sunburn, dehydration and heat stroke. Severe cold weather can cause conditions such as hypothermia. Make sure you know what you should do in the event of these.
Watch out for bugs. Hornets, bees, wasps, and yellow jackets are a problem at many campsites. Avoid attracting stinging insects by wearing light-colored clothing and not wearing perfumes or colognes. Should such an insect approach, do not wave wildly and swat blindly, instead, use a gentle pushing or brushing motion to deter them.
Avoid drinking water in the wild, even if it the stream looks pristine and pure.
Following our simple set of suggestions and practicing common sense can help ensure you have a safer and more enjoyable RVing vacation. Enjoy!
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