Avoiding an RV Disaster

Recreational vehicles are an excellent way to discover America. There seems to be no more pleasurable way of touring America than in the comforts of your own RV. The beauty and the convenience of knowing where you are going to sleep, having a place to cook, and not having to pack and unpack your personal things at every stop makes them a road tripper’s best friend.

Recreational vehicles are an excellent way to discover America. Pictured above Newmar Class A Diesel Pusher camped at Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Well, that is until something goes wrong. Then, the trip can be frustrating or even a nightmare or deadly. Smart planning often helps the RVer to avoid a disaster as the following three incidents illustrate.

Reliability of GPS questioned

Idaho Falls, Idaho: The dramatic story of a British Columbia couple who made a tragic wrong turn on their trip to Las Vegas offers a startling reminder of the need for road travelers to make plans and preparations before heading out on the road.

The plight of a B. C. couple who went missing in mid-March is raising questions about the reliability of global positioning systems (GPS) in rural areas.

Albert and Rita Chretien were travelling from their home in Penticton, to a trade show in Las Vegas when their 2000 Chevrolet Astro ran into trouble on a logging road in Elko County (Nevada).

Rita Chretien, 56, was rescued Friday (May 6) after spending seven weeks alone in the wilderness. She told investigators she hasn’t seen Albert, 59, since he left with the GPS to try to find a state highway.

Police in Nevada said the Chretiens were likely led astray by their GPS.

Rex Turner, a GPS engineer based in Oklahoma, said there is no denying the benefits of the product when driving in an established city. But he said the farther you get out of town, the less reliable the systems’ maps become.

“Rural routes are worse, turn by turn data really breaks down out in the country,” he said.
Turner said a GPS can’t be 100 per cent reliable because it relies on information that is quickly changing.

Don’t let this happen to you. (Credit: engadget.com)

“Roads are constantly being worked on, neighborhoods are constantly being built and you’re at the mercy of government maps that are quite often old,” he said.

On Monday (May 8), Rita Chretien, who is recovering at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center in Twin Falls, Idaho, was upgraded to a regular diet, starting with yogurt and dairy products, the hospital said.

“The medical team is watching her closely, but indicators of her recovery are very good.”

She had survived on a tablespoon of trail mix, a single fish oil pill and one hard candy a day, her son, Raymond Chretien, said Sunday.

She reportedly lost as much as 30 pounds during the 49-day ordeal, and family members and doctors agree she faced the prospect of death had she waited much longer to be found.

How much do you rely on your GPS system? In addition to a GPS device, use up-to-date maps or travel guides which can be marked up with your travel notes. Carrying printed maps will also ensure you have access to road details at all times.

Also, always carry an emergency survival kit in your vehicle.

Fire destroys motorhome

RV fires are one of the largest causes of recreational vehicle loss. (Credit: Mac the Fire Guy)

Glendale, Arizona: After changing batteries on his motorhome and starting the engine, the owner noticed smoke coming from the engine. He tried to put out the fire with an extinguisher, but it was too intense. By the time firefighters arrived, the $150,000 motorhome was destroyed, a door to the house was charred, a palm tree more than 20 feet away was burning, and the garage door bowed from the heat. The owner was cleaning the vehicle and preparing for an upcoming trip.

RV bursts into flames

Polk City, Florida: A recreational vehicle was destroyed after catching fire in Polk City. The driver said he pulled over to have coffee and smelled smoke, so he got out of the vehicle. Authorities said the engine likely overheated. The RV was destroyed by the flames. At one point, a fireball was seen shooting from the vehicle.

Remember, Safety First, and Happy RVing!

Worth Pondering…
The only aspect of our travels that is interesting to others is disaster.

—Martha Gellman

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