Is Your RV Ready For The Holiday Weekend?

This weekend marks the start of the camping season and that means getting your RV road ready for new adventures.

One of over 2,000 arches in Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
One of over 2,000 arches in Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

AAA travel projects 37.2 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home for Memorial Weekend. That’s the highest travel volume for Memorial Day in 10 years.

To make sure you have a safe journey to your destination, there are several things you should do before heading out on the road.

The first is to make sure your RV is in working order.

This is the time to give your RV a bath. Washing the rig will allow you to get up-close and personal with areas that are often out of sight—and thus—out of mind.

Always start on the roof. Exercise care when walking on the roof, especially if wet. Pay close attention to the rubber membrane for any cracks or deterioration of the white surface coating.

Look carefully for any deterioration in the caulking around vents, seams, antennas, and roof-mounted satellite dish. Also inspect the plastic vent lids and skylights for sunlight
deterioration and cracks.

Washing the RV and rinsing thoroughly around the windows will help locate possible leaks. Carefully inspect window seals and caulking around compartments and accessories.

Discover Okanagan Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Now, let’s go RVing to the beautiful Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Routine tire inspection is a critical part of regular maintenance as well as an integral procedure during the spring checkup. Check the date of manufacture from the D.O.T. code that is located on the outside tire sidewall. Every tire contains the week and year of manufacture.

The general rule of thumb is that motorhome and trailer tires will age-out after seven years, regardless of tread condition. During inspection, check every tire for cuts, cracks, or bubbles — including the inside sidewall.

Inflate tires to the correct air pressure. To determine the proper pressure, either refer to the RV manufacturer’s weight label (assuming the RV is not overloaded) or weigh the wheels individually and consult the tire manufacturer’s load and inflation tables.

Check the LP-gas, smoke, and carbon-monoxide warning detectors. Start by replacing the battery in the smoke detector (which should be done once a year). Push the test button in each device to check for proper operation. Most of these detectors will not last the lifetime of your RV; check with the manufacturer, or look on the back of the detector to see if there’s an expiration date.

And don’t forget the fire extinguisher. It should be tested and replaced according to the manufacturer’s timeline as well.

Historic Mesilla © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Historic Mesilla, near Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Test the microwave oven. Using a glass of water, run the microwave for two minutes and be sure the water reaches a point of near boiling.

Using a flashlight look for signs of moisture inside your cupboards and closets. Also be on the lookout for mold and mildew. Check under the galley, and open all drawers and inspect behind them with the flashlight as well. Look for mice nests or dead critters.

If you don’t have one already, pack an emergency kit with non-perishable food, a flashlight, a first aid kit, and drinking water.

Once your RV is ready to go, make sure you have all the equipment you will need. The smaller battery operated vacuum cleaners take little storage space and are available for that quick cleanup when needed.

This is also the time to update and add some new features to your RV. There are many new accessories on the market to add to the experience. Big this year are LED lights. They are popular in the RV industry simply because they hardly use any energy.

Taking the time to give your RV a thorough spring checkup will make for much more enjoyable travels. And finding the little problems before they become big headaches also keeps more money in your pocket.

Getting out with your family, hitting the reset button, going camping, unwinding and relaxation, and spending quality time with your family—that is what it is all about.

Bisbee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Historic Bisbee in southeastern Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And the golden rule: don’t pass up the opportunities along the way to explore and see something new.

Worth Pondering…

The journey not the arrival matters.

—T. S. Eliot

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Prep Your RV For Summer In 5 Easy Steps

The weather is getting warmer and summer will soon be here.

Ramblers Rest RV Resort, Venice, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Ramblers Rest RV Resort, Venice, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Now is the time to start planning your summer vacation. But prior to booking a campsite, owners of recreational vehicles should perform some basic and routine maintenance to ensure that their road trip goes smoothly. Preventative measures and maintenance will reduce the risk of problems.

It is a much better to take care of any problems while at home rather than having to deal with costly repairs while on the road. Trouble-free camping makes for happy camping.

Plug it In – Turn it On

After taking the RV out of winter storage, plug it in to shore power, turn on the LP gas, and connect to city water to ensure that all electric and propane appliances function normally and there is no evidence of water leaks. Also run the air conditioning units and furnace, turn on the refrigerator and freezer, start the water heater, and power up the generator and run with a full load.

Check and Double Check

Top off the fluid levels in your batteries, check all hoses and belts for cracking, and all fluid levels on a motorized RV. Also check the converter and/or inverter for proper voltage. Check the headlights and turn signals. Take a look at all your hitch and towing equipment. Check fire extinguisherssmoke alarm, carbon monoxide detector, and propane sensor.

North Llano River RV Park, Junction, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Camping at North Llano River RV Park, Junction, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kick the Tires

Check the age of the tires—RV tires usually age out before they wear out.

Check that all tires are properly inflated. Improperly inflated tires means more money for fuel. Under-inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by up to 4 percent, according to International Energy Agency. Proper inflation also reduces the incidence of tire failure and blowout.

If you have a travel trailer or fifth wheel trailer you may need to pack wheel bearings.

Clean the tires and rims and inspect them for evidence of any splits or cracks in the sidewalls and weatherization damage.

Jack it Up

Regardless of your RV type, check the jacks and leveling systems, the awnings, crank and run the generator and service if required.

Open awnings and check for frayed or ripped material. Remove stains and mildew with special awning cleaner and allow awning to dry before rolling back up. Check hardware for functionality and replace as needed.

Tips For Cleaning Your RV Exterior
Products For Cleaning Your RV Exterior

Keep it Clean

Regular cleaning of a recreational vehicle is essential for its maintenance and to ensure the longevity of your RV especially after a long winter in storage. Cleaning starts with your RV roof, because whatever lands on your roof eventually ends up everywhere else on the RV. Always exercise extreme care when working on the roof of an RV, especially when wet.

When inspecting the roof look for tears or holes. Beware of small slices that can allow water intrusion. Get any holes or slices repaired immediately.

Look for peeling, cracking, or openings in the sealants and if found should be cleaned, dried, and resealed.

Next clean the front of the RV including side mirrors, the side walls, and back using a quality RV wash such as McGuire’s. The safest and easiest way to reach the upper part of the RV is with an extension pole system.

Pay special attention to the seams where the wall joints, storage bay doors, marker lights, and appliance outlets are found. Remove dirt, bugs, tar, and other road residue from the surface of your RV.

Inspect the side walls and around windows and doors for cracks or voids in the seams and seals. Scrape and reseal any affected areas with the appropriate sealant.

Canyon Vista RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Canyon Vista RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After a general clean with the soap and water it’s time to wax the beast with a quality product such as McGuire’s Wash and Wax.

Worth Pondering…

The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want.

—Ben Stein

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Prep Your RV For Spring in 10 Easy Steps

It’s that time of year again!

Prep Your RV For Spring in 10 Easy Steps
Prep Your RV For Spring in 10 Easy Steps

With temperatures rising now is the time to take your RV out of winter hibernation.

Thoroughly inspect the RV and prepare it for that first road trip or weekend getaway to your favorite camping destination.

De-Winterization

If you stored your RV in preparation for freezing temperatures, special attention needs to be given to the water system. Drain and flush the antifreeze from all water sources, including water heater and toilet.

After flushing, sanitize the freshwater tank. Let stand for at least 6 hours. Drain the water tank, water lines, and water heater. Flush the freshwater system until any bad taste and odor is gone.

Leave all faucets closed for 48 hours and check for any water leaks or required pump repairs.

Check Batteries

Columbia Sun RV Resort, Kennewick, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Prep Your RV For Spring in 10 Easy Steps. Camping at Columbia Sun RV Resort, Kennewick, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV batteries can give trouble after long periods of storage without proper charging. Testing the batteries will ensure that any problems will be addressed prior to travel. If there is corrosion on the battery terminals, it’s recommended that you clean and protect them from further corrosion. Use baking soda and water or commercial cleaners and acid neutralizers.

Exterior Maintenance

Wash the RV and thoroughly inspect entire rig for anything in need of repair or replacement. Start with the roof. Always take special care when walking on any wet surface especially when height is involved. Check for cracks or other deterioration that may have occurred, especially in the caulking around the vents, seams, and antennas. Also inspect vent lids and sun lights. Check the awnings and slide toppers for any holes, tears, and mold.

​Inspect Tires

Inspect all tires prior to each trip to make sure there are no unexpected delays along the way. Check the date of manufacture from the D.O.T code that is located on the outside tire sidewall. RV tires often age out before they wear out. During your inspection, check for cracks, cuts, bubbles, and uneven or abnormal wear. Make sure all tires are inflated to the correct pressure. Check your RV manufacturer’s label or consult the tire manufacture’s load and inflation tables.

Midtown RV, Newmar and Airstream dealer in Penticton, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Prep Your RV For Spring in 10 Easy Steps. When in doubt, check with a qualified service technician. Midtown RV, Newmar and Airstream dealer in Penticton, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Propane System

Check the propane system. Before opening the valve, thoroughly inspect the regulator, fittings, and rubber hoses, and LP-tank for any corrosion or cracks. LP-gas regulators do not last forever. When in doubt, check with a qualified service technician.

Once the propane system has been properly tested, service all propane operating appliances. Check for debris, rust, and clean all appliances thoroughly. Also be sure to check electrical connections for corrosion as these could be a potential fire hazard.

Anything you aren’t comfortable doing yourself or have questions or concerns about, consult the service department at your RV dealer.

Generator

Prior to starting the generator check for fuel or oil leaks, check the oil level, and examine the exhaust system to ensure there are no leaks.

Discover Okanagan Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Now, let’s go RVing to the beautiful Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Start the generator and check necessary functions. One of the primary problems with generators comes from lack of use. Fuel often breaks down and gets gummy. Moisture can build up resulting in damage. Check manual for maintenance schedule.

Dump Hoses

Check your sewer hoses for any tears before using. Sewer hoses have a limited life expectancy and should be replaced as needed.

Waste Tank Valve

Ensure the waste tank valves are functioning properly by working the handles in and out in small increments. (Make sure tank is empty before doing this!) Valve seals can dry out over time making them stick.

Check Lights

Do a visual inspection of all interior and exterior lights and replace bulbs as needed.

Safety Detectors & Monitors

Today’s RVs come from the factory with a number of detectors pre-installed to detect dangerous circumstances and prevent personal harm to their occupants. Smoke, carbon dioxide, and LP gas detectors need to be checked annually—and have a fresh set of batteries installed.

Now, Let’s Go RVing!

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety first and happy RVing.

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Father & Daughter Died of CO Poisoning in RV

Carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected in the deaths of a 39-year-old man and his 11-year-old daughter who were found in an RV being used as a home by a family just north of Duluth, Minnesota.

Father & Daughter Died of CO Poisoning in RV
Father & Daughter Died of CO Poisoning in RV

Two other siblings in the RV, a 14-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl, also fell ill and were taken by ambulance last week to Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth and then transferred to Hennepin County Medical Center for further treatment, Star Tribune reported.

It was one of the children inside the RV who called their grandfather to report “there was a problem inside with the generator,” Sheriff Lt. Jason Lukovsky told Star Tribune.

“Readings were taken, and there were high levels” of carbon monoxide, when emergency responders arrived on the scene, the lieutenant added.

Responders found a generator near the camper, and it was not operating when deputies showed up, Lukovsky said.

On a cool Wednesday in March this year, a couple was enjoying their RV at a campground in Nashville. Their bodies were discovered by family members who traveled to Nashville to check on the couple after they were unable to reach them for several days.

One of the propane-gas stove burners had been left on accidentally, police said, filling the air with carbon monoxide. The RV had a carbon monoxide detector, but, it had no batteries.

Father & Daughter Died of CO Poisoning in RV
Father & Daughter Died of CO Poisoning in RV

Unfortunately, these is not isolated incidents.

Every year on average, carbon monoxide poisoning claims over 400 lives and causes 20,000 visits to hospital emergency departments.

Carbon monoxide is produced when you burn any one of various fuels, including wood, charcoal, kerosene, stove oil, and propane. Camping stoves and grills are sources. So are internal combustion engines, like those in generators.

Carbon monoxide is harmful when breathed because it replaces oxygen in the blood and literally deprives our heart, brain, and other organs of oxygen. Without oxygen, cells throughout the body die, and the organs stop working.

One of the things that makes carbon monoxide so dangerous is it has no odor or color. You can’t see, smell, or taste carbon monoxide. But if you breathe too much of it, it can become deadly within minutes.

Your only clues that you’re being poisoned may be general symptoms easily attributed to another problem. Or, if you’re asleep or intoxicated, you may not detect the poisoning at all.

So it’s important to prevent carbon monoxide from becoming an issue in the first place. Fortunately, there are good ways to do that:

Use portable generators outside only. Place far away from windows, doors, and vents. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 20 feet.) Point the exhaust away from your RV, tent, or house.

Never use a stove or grill to heat your RV. Even a warm, unlit grill is dangerous; warm coals continue producing carbon monoxide. The grill lid doesn’t protect you.

Carbon Monoxide: Symptoms & Treatment
Carbon Monoxide: Symptoms & Treatment

Ensure you have a working carbon monoxide detector. Test it monthly, and change the batteries every six months.

Inspect the RV for openings in the floor and sidewalls (seal any holes with silicone adhesive or have it repaired before using your generator again). Inspect windows, door seals, and weather strips for effective seal.

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.

Inspect the RV chassis and generator exhaust system regularly to ensure they are working properly. “Inspect for exhaust leaks at every startup and after every eight hours of running,” recommends Keystone RV Company in a carbon monoxide fact sheet. Here are a few more of their tips:

Don’t use exhaust fans when the generator’s running. They could cause carbon monoxide to be sucked into the RV.

Fully open or close slide-outs for a proper seal.

Know that parking in a confined space can reduce airflow around the RV and cause carbon monoxide to build up. Even in the woods, if there’s a lot of natural covering, carbon monoxide can hover there rather than disperse. High humidity can also create a covering.

Father & Daughter Died of CO Poisoning in RV
Father & Daughter Died of CO Poisoning in RV

Nearby RVs and vehicles can affect you too. In 2008 in Indianapolis, one man died in his RV from carbon monoxide poisoning and three of his family members were hospitalized, but the family hadn’t been using a generator. Police believe their air conditioner may have pulled in carbon monoxide from the RV parked close to them.

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident

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RV Destinations For Cold Weather Camping

“Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…”

Preparing Your RV For Winter
Preparing Your RV For Winter

Cold weather months can be a great time to travel and camp in a recreational vehicle.

Spending the winter in an RV where the temperature plunges down to 20 degrees below zero is not everyone’s idea of a good time. But, for some, snow-and-ice-related recreational activities and the beauty and serenity of a winter landscape make it worthwhile.

A camping trip to a ski area; football, basketball, or hockey game; hunting or snowmobiling; cross country skiing, snow tubing, tobogganing, or ice fishing are some of the ways you can continue to enjoy your RV during the winter months. An RV provides an excellent base camp for winter activities with heat, a kitchen, bathroom, and other comforts of home.

Winter camping in your RV can be a lot of fun if some simple preparations and precautions are observed. Much of it has to do with the RV or camping unit. However, the mind-set of the RVer is also important.

winterrvtipsWhen using your RV in the winter make sure you have a show shovel, window scraper, brush, and an ice chipper (i.e. an axe). Also pack a bag of rock salt (sand or kitty litter) to sprinkle on walkways and to put around your tires in the event you get stuck in snow or end up on slippery patches of ice. Be sure to pack plenty of blankets, at least a gallon of bottled water (per person), and a cell phone.

It is advisable to check the weather forecast for the area you are traveling through and to call the Highway Patrol or AAA for any road condition or weather alerts. Before leaving, make sure your RV is properly prepared for the cold you may encounter.

You should anticipate driving in icy, snowy, and windy weather. Make sure your windshield wipers are functioning and that the wiper blades are in good condition. Check the condition of your tires. Check your antifreeze protection level to make sure it is low enough for the area you plan to visit. Fill your propane tank before departing.

Batteries do not function well in cold weather.  Replace batteries as necessary before starting your trip.

When purchasing an RV for use in cold weather, make sure it has cold weather features including heated holding tanks, dual pane windows, adequate LP capacity, an enclosed underbelly, and heated bays.

Having an RV designed for cold weather use is an advantage, but not a necessity. There are many things that you can do to improve your ability to stay warm in most RVs.

Check your carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarm for proper operation before every trip and change the batteries as needed. Do not use your range burners or oven as a source of heat. Do not use a gas or charcoal grill indoors. Do not sleep with the generator operating. Remember that carbon monoxide can be deadly. You cannot see it, taste it, or smell it. And never leave a space heater unattended.

Cold weather months can be a great time to travel and camp in a recreational vehicle.
Cold weather months can be a great time to travel and camp in a recreational vehicle.

With a little planning and the right equipment, winter outings in your RV can be a fun way to experience all that Mother Nature has to offer.

When the snow flies it’s time to grab your skis and snowboards, pack the RV, and hit the road. Consider Good Sam campgrounds near Breckenridge, Colorado; Cedar City, Utah (near Brian Head); Mammoth Mountain (California); Lake Placid, New York; Lake Tahoe (Nevada); Whistler, British Columbia; Banff, Lake Louise, or Jasper (Alberta).

The Gunflint Nordic Ski area in northern Minnesota offers some of the best cross country skiing in the Midwest. Trails meander through the various landscapes of the highlands covered with stands of old growth white pine, spruce, aspen, and balsam fir. Gunflint lake offers excellent lake trout ice fishing. Neighboring lakes also offer walleye, splake, and rainbow trout. Sliding, snowshoeing, and old fashioned sledding is also available.

Winter can be a spectacular time to go camping, even in the more severe climates.

With careful planning and preparation, your RV can be an enjoyable way to live in or visit the many beautiful winter areas accessible by RVs. Drive safely and enjoy.

Worth Pondering…

Winter giveth the fields, and the trees so old,
Their beards of icicles and snow…
—Charles duc d’Orléans, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Tailgating &Carbon Monoxide Dangers

You can’t see it, smell it, or taste it, but carbon monoxide causes about 400 deaths in America each year. Further, carbon monoxide poisoning sends some 20,000 people to the emergency room each year.

carbon-monoxide-poisoningAs 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.

carbon-monoxide-detectors-mandatory“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.

carbon-monoxide-gas-safetyMake sure you know how to quickly disconnect all power sources in the event of an emergency.

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.

Carbon Monoxide: Symptoms & Treatment
Carbon Monoxide: Symptoms & Treatment

Everyone is more vulnerable at high altitudes.

Consider parking in a “no generator” zone at RV rallies.

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.

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Carbon Monoxide: Symptoms & Treatment

Every year on average, carbon monoxide poisoning claims over 400 lives and causes 20,000 visits to hospital emergency departments.

Carbon Monoxide: Symptoms & Treatment
Carbon Monoxide: Symptoms & Treatment

Known as the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is formed when organic compounds such as gasoline, kerosene, oil, propane, coal, or wood are burned.

Carbon monoxide is harmful when breathed because it replaces oxygen in the blood and literally deprives our heart, brain, and other organs of oxygen. Without oxygen, cells throughout the body die, and the organs stop working.

You can’t see, smell, or taste carbon monoxide. But if you breathe too much of it, it can become deadly within minutes.

Be certain you know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, what to do if you have the symptoms, and how to keep it from happening.

Carbon monoxide has an affinity 19 times greater than oxygen for the hemoglobin or red cells in our blood. Think of it as being 19 times more magnetic than oxygen. Since the blood cells hold onto the carbon monoxide so tightly, there is simply no way for the oxygen in the area to become attached to the blood cells. If we can’t get oxygen into our blood, organs and tissue begin to die, and within a very short period of time, death will occur.

Even with 100 percent oxygen, it is extremely difficult to successfully resuscitate someone who has succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Recognizing Carbon Monoxide Symptoms

Carbon monoxide poisoning can feel like food poisoning or the flu, but without fever.

Symptoms of exposure include tightness across the chest, intense headache, throbbing in the temples, weakness, fatigue, dizziness, impaired judgment, and nausea.

carbon-monoxide-gas-safety
Carbon Monoxide: Symptoms & Treatment

As carbon monoxide builds up in your blood, symptoms get worse and may include confusion and drowsiness, fast breathing, fast heartbeat, chest pain, vision problems, seizures, vomiting, muscular twitching, collapse, and loss of consciousness.

Depending on the degree and length of exposure, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause permanent brain damage; damage to your heart, possibly leading to life-threatening cardiac complications years after the poisoning, or death.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur suddenly or over a long period of time.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be especially dangerous for people who are sleeping or intoxicated.

The fumes may be fatal before anyone realizes there’s a problem.

If you experience symptoms that you suspect could be from carbon monoxide poisoning, you should immediately get out of the RV and breathe fresh air.

Then call 911.

Remember, carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, so don’t ignore symptoms. You could lose consciousness and die if you do.

DO NOT attempt to re-enter or air out the recreational vehicle. When the Fire Department arrives with the Ambulance, the source of the carbon monoxide can be better detected if the RV is left closed. Most ambulances have a carbon monoxide monitor, much like a pulse oximeter to assess carbon monoxide levels in patients.

carbon_monoxide-300x225
Carbon Monoxide: Symptoms & Treatment

The treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning is high-dose oxygen, usually using a facemask attached to an oxygen reserve bag.

Carbon monoxide levels in the blood may be periodically checked.

People especially vulnerable to carbon monoxide exposure include those who are very young or old, unborn babies, those who suffer from lung or heart disease, or who smoke.

Fetal blood cells take up carbon monoxide more readily than adult blood cells. This makes unborn babies more susceptible to harm from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Young children take breaths more frequently than adults, which may make them more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Elderly people who experience carbon monoxide poisoning may be more likely to develop brain damage.

Everyone is more vulnerable at high altitudes.

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.

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6 RV Safety Accessories

In previous articles on Vogel Talks RVing, I’ve discussed safety tips and useful items and accessories to travel with on RV road trips.

Today’s post details six safety items and accessories to pack in your recreational vehicle.

Fire extinguishers

Fire-Ext-PASS-with-border-2-25All RVs and towed vehicles should be equipped with fire extinguishers. You should have three fire extinguishers for your RV—one in the galley, one in the bedroom, and one outside of the RV in an unlocked basement compartment. Also, carry a fire extinguisher in your tow/toad.

Be aware that there are four classes of fire extinguishers: A, B, C, and D, and each one is for a specific type of fire.

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

Smoke Alarm

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 Camping World and specialized retailers. Test monthly and replace batteries annually.

Carbon Monoxide Detector

carbon-monoxide-detectors-mandatoryInstall and maintain at least one carbon monoxide detector in your RV near the sleeping area. Test monthly and replace batteries annually.

Propane (LP gas) Detector

Install and maintain a propane (LP gas) leak alarm at floor level in your RV, no more than six inches above the floor. Test monthly and replace batteries annually.

First Aid Kit & Manual

first aid kit readily available in an emergency isn’t just a good idea—it’s a necessity for every RVer. A well-stocked first-aid kit can help you respond effectively to common injuries and emergencies. You can purchase first-aid kits and refills at the Red Cross store, most drugstores, or assemble your own.

Contents of a first-aid kit should include adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic solution or towelettes, bandages, calamine lotion, cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs, gauze pads and roller gauze in assorted sizes, first aid manual, petroleum jelly or other lubricant, safety pins in assorted sizes, scissors and tweezers, and sterile eyewash.

Familiarize yourself with the items in the first aid kit and know how to properly use them. Check your first-aid kits regularly, at least every three months, to replace supplies that have expired.

The Mayo Clinic is an excellent source for first aid information to help you during a medical emergency.

If you travel with pets, Pet First Aid manuals are even available.

Gorilla Tape

gorilla tapeGorilla Tape is a brand of adhesive tape sold by the makers of Gorilla Glue, and available in several sizes and colors, including camouflage, white, and clear. The tape is a reinforced form of duct tape and is marketed as being for the “toughest jobs on planet earth”, and was featured in Popular Science’s “Best of What’s New 2006″.

Gorilla Tape can solve many problems while on the road—and you can do most anything with this stuff. RVers have used it to temporarily repair a sewer hose, keep a driver’s side window from continually falling, and even affix the coffee maker to the counter so that it doesn’t move during travel. It’s better and stronger than packing tape. Everyone should have Gorilla Tape and Glue in their toolbox — you do have a toolbox in your RV, right?

Toolbox

RV_Toolbox1594Just about anything in your RV that can snap, crack, rip loose, tear, bend, leak, spark, or fall off will do exactly that at the most inconvenient time. Something will need to be tightened, loosened, pounded flat, pried, or cut.

To help you deal with everyday problems and annoyances, maintain a well-equipped RV toolbox (store on curb side).

Contents should include Phillips and Robertson head and flat bladed screwdrivers (large, medium, small), standard and needle-nose pliers, channel-lock pliers (medium and large), 10-inch Crescent wrench, claw hammer, hobby knife with blade protector, wire cutters, tape measure, silicone sealant, Gorilla tape and glue, electrical tape, battery jumper cables, open and box-end wrenches, silicone spray, WD-40 lubricant, bungee cords, road flares/warning reflectors, fold-down shovel, stepladder, spare fuses, and heavy-duty tire pressure gauge.

Many RVers also carry a socket wrench set (standard and metric), small drill bit set and cordless drill with spare battery, and digital voltmeter.

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.

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Carbon Monoxide: Odorless & DEADLY In All Seasons

On a cool Wednesday in March this year, a couple was enjoying their RV at a KOA campground in Nashville. Their bodies were discovered by family members who traveled to Nashville to check on the couple after they were unable to reach them for several days.

Carbon Monoxide: Odorless & DEADLY In All Seasons
Carbon Monoxide: Odorless & DEADLY In All Seasons

One of the propane-gas stove burners had been left on accidentally, police said, filling the air with carbon monoxide. The RV had a carbon monoxide detector, but, it had no batteries. The couple had been living at the campground for about six months, according to WRCB-TV.

Every year on average, over 400 people die in the United States of carbon monoxide poisoning that’s not fire-related. Thousands more are treated and sometimes hospitalized.

The Columbia (Missouri) Tribune reports that carbon monoxide poisoning is to blame in the death of a couple in rural Pike County. They were found in a small camper where they had been living. The coroner concluded that a propane space heater in the camper likely caused carbon monoxide poisoning.

Usually, we think of this as a winter issue. That’s when gas-producing generators and fireplaces generally get fired up. But in northern areas where summertime camping is popular, carbon monoxide remains a concern in all seasons.

Prevention

Carbon monoxide is produced when you burn any one of various fuels, including wood, charcoal, kerosene, stove oil, and propane. Camping stoves and grills are sources. So are internal combustion engines, like those in generators.

Carbon Monoxide: Odorless & DEADLY In All Seasons
Carbon Monoxide: Odorless & DEADLY In All Seasons

One of the things that makes carbon monoxide so dangerous is it has no odor or color. Your only clues that you’re being poisoned may be general symptoms easily attributed to another problem. Or, if you’re asleep or intoxicated, you may not detect the poisoning at all.

So it’s important to prevent carbon monoxide from becoming an issue in the first place. Fortunately, there are good ways to do that:

Use portable generators outside only. Place far away from windows, doors, and vents. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 20 feet.) Point the exhaust away from your RV, tent, or house.

Never use a stove or grill to heat your tent, camper, or house. Even a warm, unlit grill is dangerous; warm coals continue producing carbon monoxide. The grill lid doesn’t protect you. Instead, for camping, remember to pack plenty of blankets and coats.

Grill in open air only, not even in a garage.

Don’t use a portable lantern when sleeping in a tent or RV. Bring flashlights and extra batteries instead.

Ensure you have a working carbon monoxide detector. Test it monthly, and change the batteries every six months.

Don’t ride or let your children ride in the bed of a covered pickup truck, such as one with a camper shell. Exhaust fumes can gather in there.

Inspect the RV for openings in the floor and sidewalls (seal any holes with silicone adhesive or have it repaired before using your generator again). Inspect windows, door seals, and weather strips for effective seal.

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.

carbon-monoxide-poisoning
Carbon Monoxide: Odorless & DEADLY In All Seasons

Inspect the RV chassis and generator exhaust system regularly to ensure they are working properly. “Inspect for exhaust leaks at every startup and after every eight hours of running,” recommends Keystone RV Company in a carbon monoxide fact sheet. Here are a few more of their tips:

Don’t use exhaust fans when the generator’s running. They could cause carbon monoxide to be sucked into the RV.

Fully open or close slide-outs for a proper seal.

Know that parking in a confined space can reduce airflow around the RV and cause carbon monoxide to build up. Even in the woods, if there’s a lot of natural covering, carbon monoxide can hover there rather than disperse. High humidity can also create a covering.

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.

Nearby RVs and vehicles can affect you too. In 2008 in Indianapolis, one man died in his RV from carbon monoxide poisoning and three of his family members were hospitalized, but the family hadn’t been using a generator. Police believe their air conditioner may have pulled in carbon monoxide from the RV parked close to them.

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.

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6 Case Studies in Preventing RV Fires

With an average of 3,100 RV fires each year, there is no shortage of news stories across the U.S. and Canada about devastating losses due to recreational vehicle fires.

An portable heater left unattended was the cause of a fire that burned this Winnebago. (Credit: Bill Beezley/East Jefferson Fire-Rescue)
An portable heater left unattended was the cause of a fire that burned this Winnebago. (Credit: Bill Beezley/East Jefferson Fire-Rescue)

These fires caused seven deaths, 62 injuries, and approximately $41 million in damages each year.

These numbers reflect how important fire safety and fire prevention are to the RV lifestyle. Keep in mind a few safety precautions whenever you leave an RV for any amount of time.

Make sure that space heaters are turned off at night and when leaving the RV. Do not leave cooking unattended for even the shortest period of time. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors monthly and replace batteries yearly.

Following are recent reports on six RVs destroyed by fires that were caused by human carelessness.

Washington: Heater Cause of RV Fire

Peninsuladailynews.com reports that an old portable heater left on in a Winnebago was the cause of a fire that burned the motorhome.

East Jefferson Fire-Rescue personnel found flames shooting out of the roof of the 1972 Winnebago Chieftain after they were called to the fire at Sea Breeze Mobile Home Park.
No one was hurt, but the vehicle was uninhabitable, according to reports.

The owner of the vehicle was absent at the time of the fire, which was reported by a neighbor who called 9-1-1 dispatchers.

Royal Firefighters apply plastic to a trailer window after a fire at the Fort Victoria RV Park on Christmas Day. (Credit: Bruce Stotesbury, timescolonist.com)
Royal Firefighters apply plastic to a trailer window after a fire at the Fort Victoria RV Park on Christmas Day. (Credit: Bruce Stotesbury, timescolonist.com)

The owner told firefighters he had left an old portable heater on when he left the vehicle about an hour and a half before, and that was determined to be the cause of the fire.
Twelve firefighters from East Jefferson Fire-Rescue responded to the call.

Mississippi: Unattended Skillet Cause of RV Fire

Sunherald.com reports that a fire heavily damaged a 41-foot camper trailer on private property in Saucier on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Nobody was in the camper when the fire started. The cause was a skillet left on after sausage and bacon had been cooked, Harrison County Fire Marshal Pat Sullivan said.

Nine firefighters and two engines from Saucier Fire and the Harrison County Fire Services responded when the fire was reported. Sullivan said it took about 10 minutes to put out the fire.

Maryland: Hot Water Tank Malfunction Cause of RV Fire

Heraldmailmedia.com reports that a hot-water tank malfunction started a fire that caused $60,000 in damages to a 2011 Keystone Raptor fifth wheel trailer and its contents near Hagerstown.

The RV, which contained a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, was a total loss, according to a fire marshal’s office news release.

Twenty-seven firefighters from Hagerstown, Leitersburg, Longmeadow, Maugansville, and Greencastle, Pennsylvania, took 15 minutes to bring the fire under control.

Ohio: Refrigerator Cause of RV Fire

Norwalkreflector.com reports that a motorhome fire started at the bottom of the refrigerator and spread to the wall.

Damages totaled $20,000 and the vehicle was determined to be a total loss due to major heat and smoke damage.

Three vehicles and seven firefighters responded. When they arrived at the scene of the blaze, flames had gone through the roof and one side of the motorhome. No injuries were reported.

Texas: Space Heater Cause of RV Fire

Weatherforddemocrat.com reports that an RV fire south of Weatherford on Christmas left a man, who was sleeping inside the vehicle at the time, with third-degree burns to several parts of his body.

Fire that started at the bottom of the refrigerator destroys motorhome. (Source: norwalkreflector.com)
Fire that started at the bottom of the refrigerator destroys motorhome. (Source: norwalkreflector.com)

The man’s mother indicated her daughter and her husband saw the smoke from their house nearby and went to the RV and helped him get out. Firefighters from Spring Creek VFD, Weatherford Fire Department and Greenwood VFD responded to the fire and found the RV on fire. Firefighters said the fire probably started due to a space heater.

British Columbia: Turkey Left Unattended in Oven Cause of RV Fire

Timescolonist.com reports that a cooking turkey left unattended in an oven caused a travel trailer fire on Christmas Day.

View Royal firefighters were called to the Fort Victoria RV Park after neighbors spotted smoke coming from the trailer. Firefighters had the flames out quickly but the trailer suffered considerable smoke damage.

“It’s another ad for not leaving your cooking unattended,” said fire chief Paul Hurst.

“That turkey will be inedible.”

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.

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