10 Safety Tips every RVer should Know

August 16, 2016

10 Safety Tips every RVer should Know

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of the open road or the serenity of a far-removed, wooded campsite. What’s more, a dependable RV gives you the peace of mind to let loose and enjoy the ride. Still, experienced RVers know that anything can happen—and are prepared for it all. How do you balance sensible safety with family fun? Here are our top 10 tips.

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  1. First, know what you’re working with. Today’s premier RVs offer valuable safety features. If you already own, make sure you’re familiar with your unit’s safety features and how to use them to the fullest. If you’re still in the market for an RV, or considering an upgrade, explore your options. Look for safety features such as:
    • Third brake lights
    • Seat belts in every seat (for motorhomes)
    • Backup cameras
    • Keyless entry

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  1. Talk to your dealer. Rely on your dealer to identify the most important safety precautions for your particular type of RV or model. Dealership employees are the experts—and have likely taken at least a few RV trips themselves. Heed their advice.

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  1. Don’t skip pre-trip maintenance. Maintenance is crucial no matter what, but particularly if your RV has been sitting idle for a while. Perform the necessary maintenance at the frequency outlined in your owner’s manual. And make the following inspections/checks before any trip:
    • Tire pressure
    • Hitch (if applicable)
    • Fire extinguishers and smoke/carbon monoxide detectors
    • Belts and hoses (particularly the radiator, if applicable)
    • Propane tanks

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  1. Practice, practice, practice (and take it slow). Towables and motorhomes alike can take some getting used to. Quality construction and top-of-the-line features make the ride incredibly safe and surprisingly smooth, but it’s still important to get a good feel for your unit on the road. This takes practice and patience. Take your time and apply everyday driving precautions (use your signals, check your mirrors, stay far behind the vehicle in front of you—you know the drill!). It’s also prudent to have a spotter help with parking, backing up, or navigating tight spaces.

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  1. Have a plan. Being far from home in an unfamiliar place can be invigorating—but in an emergency situation, you have to be able to spring into action. Take note of the nearest hospitals, veterinary clinics (if you’re traveling with pets) and local emergency contacts. It also pays to keep a friend or family member in the loop about your itinerary.

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  1. Don’t weigh yourself down. The beauty of a road trip is that you can leave everything behind for a bit. And in an RV, safety may depend on that. Each RV has a cargo carrying capacity, as outlined by the RV manufacturer, that you should not exceed. This weight limit refers to anything extra that you load into your RV for the trip (in the case of motorhomes, people count, too.)

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  1. Lock up. Campgrounds offer a sense of community and security—and chances are, you don’t have to worry about your fellow campers. Still, it never hurts to take the proper precautions to protect your valuables. This means locking your unit every time you leave (including doors and storage compartments) and closing the blinds. You can also ask about your campground’s safety features; some have cameras, gates and even security personnel for better peace of mind.

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  1. Be prepared for inclement weather. Not everyone likes to camp in the rain, so chances are, you’ve checked and rechecked the forecast. But sometimes, especially on longer trips, severe weather is inevitable. Don’t try to out-drive heavy rain, snow or wind—pull over and wait things out, preferably at a rest stop or other designated area. In the event of a tornado, seek out a structure with a tornado shelter.

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  1. Enjoy the great outdoors. Many RV trips involve America’s favorite outdoor activities—from hiking and biking to swimming and s’more-making. Don’t neglect safety in these activities—helmets for biking, sticking to the trail when hiking, proper supervision and water safety at lakes and rivers, and taking the proper fire precautions (just to name a few).

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  1. Make sure you’re covered. Sometimes, issues on the road are unavoidable. But sufficient warranty coverage and access to roadside assistance can significantly lessen the burden. Understand how your RV manufacturer and insurance provider has you covered.

 

Don’t let the what-ifs worry you—be prepared so that you can relax and enjoy the trip. For more trip tips, check out these helpful posts:

Hit the road with these trip-planning tips
These 10 camping hacks will change your trip

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