RV Fire Safety Guidelines

Whether camping or just relaxing in your recreational vehicle, fire safety is essential.

Fire safety seminars conducted at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It is critical that every member of your party know what to do in an emergency or fire. If you are one of the millions of RV enthusiasts who love to take to the road and explore this great country of ours, ensure your family’s safety while traveling by following these fire safety guidelines.

It’s crucial to know your location so emergency responders can find you in the event of an emergency.  Be aware of your location and surroundings and remember, SECONDS DO COUNT!

Confirm the local 911 emergency numbers for police, fire, and ambulance is available in the area.

Have at least two escape routes—one in the front and one in the rear of the RV.

Test all escape windows, hatches, and door latches for smooth operation and keep all escape windows, hatches, and doors clear of any obstructions.

As soon as they are old enough, teach children how to open escape hatches and emergency exits and have them practice.

Fire Escape Plan Guidelines

The first rule of RV firefighting is SAVE LIVES FIRST and property second.

Get yourself and your family to safety before attempting to extinguish any fire. Only if you can do so without endangering yourself or others should you use firefighting aids on hand.

Re-emphasize to everyone aboard that objects can be replaced, people can’t!

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

Install and maintain at least one smoke alarm in your RV near the sleeping area. Special 12v smoke alarms, designed specifically for RVs, are available from specialized retailers.

Install and maintain at least one carbon monoxide alarm in your RV near the sleeping area. Special 12v carbon monoxide alarms, designed specifically for RVs, are available from specialized retailers.

Be aware that residential style carbon monoxide alarms that plug directly into the electrical outlet require 110v power and would only work and sound an alarm when your RV is plugged into an electrical source at a campground, but would not function when you are on the road or operating off of your 12v battery supply.

Install a propane leak alarm at floor level, no more than six inches above the floor or lowest level to alert you in the event of a propane leak. Propane gas, like gasoline fumes, tends to pool in low-lying spots and even a small spark can ignite it.

If you have a leak, immediately evacuate the area and shut off the propane at the tank, if it is safe to do so.

Propane Fire Safety Guidelines

Ensure that all travelers in the RV know what the sound of each type of alarm indicates and what to do when they hear it.

Test all smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and propane leak alarms weekly when the RV is in use.

Install a fully charged multi-purpose or ABC fire extinguisher in a visible, easily accessible location near an exit where escape is also an option.

Make sure everyone knows where it is and how to use it.

If you already have a fire extinguisher installed, check the pressure gauge to ensure it is fully charged, indicated by the needle in the green area.

Also keep in mind that the dry chemical inside the extinguisher tends to pack down in the bottom of the extinguisher over time, which may make it ineffective. Once a month, check the gauge or pin for pressure, turn the extinguisher upside down, and hit the bottom sharply with your hand, and shake it well. This should dislodge any compacted dry chemical inside the extinguisher.

Most fire extinguishers have a lifespan of five to 15 years.

Remember, DON’T FIGHT A FIRE unless you call the fire department FIRST! A fire extinguisher is no substitute for the fire department.

Have your fuel-burning appliances checked at the beginning of each camping season to ensure they are properly vented, free of any obstructions such as cobwebs, bird nests, etc., and working well.

Fires are a terrifying reality of traveling in a RV. However, it is not something that travelers often consider. (Credit: ohiorvdealer.net)

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.

Most refrigerators will keep food cold or frozen for several hours, even when turned off.

When refilling the propane tanks it is important to shut off all interior burners, pilot lights, appliances, automatic ignition switches, and the RV—and have all passengers EXIT THE RV.

Whenever 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.

NEVER use the stove to heat the interior of the RV.

NEVER leave cooking unattended.

Keep all lighters and matches safely out of the reach of children.

Establish safe campfire rules to be followed when camping.

The above information is based on safety guidelines provided by Windsor (Ontario) Fire & Rescue Service.

Worth Pondering…

How a Fire Burns
In order for fire to occur, four elements must be present:
Fuel (wood, paper, cloth, gas, oils, fiberglass)
Oxygen (air at between 17% and 19%)
Heat (brakes, engine compartment, exhaust system, transmission)
Chemical Chain Reaction (batteries, refrigerator)
If any one of these four components are missing, a fire cannot burn.

—Mac the Fire Guy

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