RV Fire Safety

One of the more common calls the Yuma Rural/Metro Fire Department responds to this time of year is for fires in recreational vehicles, according to fire marshal Curt Foster. According to Foster, two such calls happened last week, The Yuma Sun reports.

RV fires are one of the largest causes of recreational vehicle loss. Photo courtesy Mac the Fire Guy

RV owners need to be just as a careful, if not more so, than homeowners in guarding against fires, and the best way to do that is through prevention.

“They need to be thought of as homes, because for some people they are,” Foster said. “Owners need to be taking the same precautions for their RVs that they do for in homes.”

While it may seem obvious, Foster said one of the most important things that RV owners need to do is make sure the smoke, LP gas, and carbon monoxide detectors are all located properly and in good working condition.

Foster recommends replacing the batteries in those detectors every couple of years and to clean and test them monthly.

He added that Norcold and Dometic have issued recall notices for their refrigerators due to fire danger and that if you receive one, you should take care of it right away.

Something else that may seem obvious but worth mentioning, according to Foster, is that recreational vehicles, like homes, have appliances such as ovens and heaters, and that owners need to make sure they are turned off before they leave.

Driving with propane on can add to the danger if you are involved in an accident or have a fire. Shut off the propane at the tank and turn off all propane-powered appliances while driving.

Fire safety is of premium importance to the conscientious RVer

Never re-enter a burning RV to retrieve anything—GET OUT & STAY OUT! Photo courtesy Mac the Fire Guy

The first rule of RV firefighting is to save lives first and property second, according to Mac the Fire Guy. Get yourself and your family to safety before attempting to extinguish a fire. Only if you can do so without endangering yourself or others should you use firefighting aids on hand.

Never re-enter a burning RV to retrieve anything—GET OUT & STAY OUT!

You should have three fire extinguishers for your coach—one in the galley, one in the bedroom, and one outside of the coach in an unlocked compartment or in your tow vehicle.

Make sure family members know how to use the extinguishers and understand which extinguishers are effective on various fires.

Ensure that the extension cord for connecting your RV to a campground’s electricity supply is in good condition and of suitable gauge wire to handle the electrical load placed upon it. Damaged extension cords must be replaced immediately.

When using the stove in your RV, open an overhead vent or turn on the exhaust fan and open a window a small amount to allow fresh air in and carbon monoxide gases out.

The stove should never be used to heat the interior of the RV.

Mechanical or electrical failures cause roughly three-quarters of the highway vehicle fires. Image source: iStock

Never leave cooking unattended.

Unfortunately, RV fires are one of the largest causes of RV loss in America today. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fire departments, RV repair shops, and insurance carriers estimate there are approximately 6,300 RV fires annually. Deaths resulting from RV fires are estimated at 5 to 20 each year and RV Alliance America statistics show half of fires erupt while the RV is parked.

While the causes of RV fires vary widely, there are identifiable trends. Engine and electrical fires are consistently the greatest cause of loss. Engine compartments, including electrical, flammable-combustible gases and liquids, are the cause of origin roughly 70 percent of the time.

Tires and brakes are the culprit in almost 20 percent of fires. Some of the worst fires are those caused when one tire of a dual or tandem pair goes flat and then scuffs and ignites, long before the driver feels any change in handling.

At each rest stop, give your tires at least an eyeball check. Remember a pressure gauge reading on hot tires is NOT accurate. Tap duals with a club and listen for a difference in sound; you can often tell if a tire is going soft.

The remaining causes of fires vary widely from faulty generators, fuel leaks, solar power problems, cooking carelessness, propane leaks, spontaneous combustion in damp charcoal, and certainly a range of unknown origins.

Remember, safety is no accident.

Worth Pondering…
Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin
X marks the spot

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