RV safety checklists wouldn't be complete without checking your emergency and alarm systems. These would include your fire extinguishers and all internal alarms.
RV Fire Extinguishers
An RV fire is one of the fastest spreading and most totally destructive fires you could experience, so it makes sense to be prepared to both prevent and stop RV fires.
Fire extinguishers are an essential safety device to keep in your RV. How many, how big, and what kinds are choices you'll have to make based upon the size or your RV, and the types of fires you might have to put out. Regardless of the choices you make, each extinguisher has several components to inspect.
- Expiration date
- Cracks or broken parts
- Signs of leakage
In addition to maintaining the integrity of your fire extinguishers, make sure everyone knows how to use them. It may be worthwhile to purchase one for the purpose of practicing with it. Alternatively, your local fire department may offer fire extinguisher classes where you can learn about the different types of fires and extinguishers designed to put them out, as well as how to use those extinguishers.
RV Smoke and Fire Alarms
Smoke detectors are nothing new since most of us have them in every room in our home. RVs have them, too. You probably know how easy it is to check them. Change the battery before you head out for the summer. Make sure you have a working smoke detector/fire alarm in each section of your RV. The sooner you are warned the safer you and your family and pets will be. Of course, you need to test your alarm every week or so just to make sure it's still working. Even new batteries fail, sometimes.
RV CO Detector
Carbon monoxide, or CO, is an odorless, tasteless gas that is more common around campers and RVers than you might realize. CO is produced from vehicle and generator exhaust and charcoal fires (bar-b-q's.) Every year there are reports of people dying from CO poisoning because they used an hibachi to burn charcoal to warm their homes. Fumes from generators or vehicle exhaust pipes can easily blow into your RV if the wind shifts or you are in an enclosed, poorly ventilated area.
Symptoms of CO poisoning are the notorious cherry-red lips. CO takes up those places in you red blood cells that normally carry oxygen to your cells. Consequently, you appear to have more than enough oxygen. Blood cells doesn't give up the CO bond as easily as they do oxygen, so even when given supplemental oxygen, your recovery could be slow. But, all too often, recovery doesn't have a chance.
Give yourself and your family the best chance possible by maintaining your CO alarm. Just like the smoke detector, put a new battery in it even if the old one seems to have plenty of juice, and test it regularly.
RV Propane Alarm
Your RV propane gas is heavy, and tends to sink to the floors. While breathing it could certainly be deadly, it's not that likely unless a leak occurs while everyone is sleeping. The more imminent danger is that it can ignite with any spark. Static electricity causes sufficient sparking to cause an explosion if enough propane gas is present.
In either event, a properly working propane alarm can save lives.Just make sure you start out with a fresh battery and test regularly.
Propane gas, like the natural gas piped into your home, contains a odor to help you detect its presence. If you smell propane, leave your RV immediately and call 911 for help and call a propane provider. Opening windows could cause a spark, as could turning on fans and vents. Just leave, and leave the door open if you can.
Other RV Safety Tips
I don't use my propane stove, mostly because as a full-timer I need the counter space. I also don't want to have to clean it, but it is still connected to the propane system. I simply removed the knobs so that they don't, accidentally, get bumped and turned slightly.
While our water is heated by propane, we've seriously considered installing those instant water heater elements. As full-timers we usually use the RV park showers, and tend to heat water only for washing dishes. One day we might do that.
It's nice to have both electrical and propane systems. Just like at one park where they shut the water off, sometimes the electric gets shut off. Nice to have propane to heat our water and rooms when that happens. And I can always put those knobs back on if I have to cook on the stove.