As thousands pull into Birmingham for this weekend’s 63rd Annual Magic City Class, authorities are reminding tailgaters to stay safe and vigilant if they are in recreational vehicles.
“We know that many fans will be attending the football game, indulging in the festivities, and spending a considerable time in their campers and RVs,” said Birmingham Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief C.W. Mardis.
Authorities began to issue the reminders after a man died last year while camping at Talladega Superspeedway. Craig Franklin Morgan, 46, and his wife, Jami Allison Morgan, 38, were found unresponsive by friends in their RV at the South Campground outside the track. Craig Morgan was pronounced dead at the scene. His wife survived. Authorities said the poisoning appeared to be the result of an exhaust system malfunction.
And three years ago last month, five bikers in Clarksville, Tennessee, all died of carbon monoxide poisoning during a camping trip at the Clarksville Speedway.
Back in March, a couple was killed when carbon monoxide filled their RV at the KOA campground near Opryland. They forgot to turn off a burner on the stove.
Officials are using these incidents to raise awareness about the potential dangers.
“Anytime you’re burning something, be it a propane grill, be it a kerosene lantern, anytime you’re burning something, carbon monoxide is released,” said Paul Petersen, director of the Emergency Preparedness program for the Tennessee Department of Health.
Officials offered these safety tips for campers and tailgaters to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning while enjoying the Classic weekend and other tailgating events.
Check your carbon monoxide detector and smoke detector regularly and change the batteries as needed.
Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: Headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, confused, and sleepy.
Park your RV so that the exhaust can easily dissipate away from the vehicle—do not park next to high grass or weeds, buildings, or other obstructions.
Do not sleep with the generator operating.
Leave a roof vent open any time the generator is running (even during winter).
Install an exhaust stack pipe on your RV’s exhaust tail pipe and on your generator’s exhaust piping.
Inspect generator and propane tank connections for leaks and breaks before using.
Turn off all appliances after use.
Have an emergency exit plan: know where the emergency exits are and be sure everyone can open them.
If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, get outside to fresh air immediately and then call 911.
When stopping for long periods of time, be aware of other vehicles around you that may have engines, refrigerators, or generators running.
Yellow flames in propane-burning appliances (coach heaters, stoves, ovens, water heaters, etc.) indicate a lack of oxygen—determine the cause and correct it immediately.
Be aware that shifting winds can cause exhaust to blow away from the coach at one moment, but under the coach in the next moment.
If you do not feel well, do not be fooled into thinking it is because you have been driving too long, you ate too much, or you are suffering from motion sickness—shut off the generator and step outside for fresh air.
Have your built-in vacuum cleaner inspected to ensure that it does not exhaust on the underside of your RV.
Everyone is more vulnerable at high altitudes.
Consider parking in a “no generator” zone at RV rallies.
Remember, safety is no accident.