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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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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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.

Read More

RVers Die of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in 2 Separate Incidents

A 75-year-old Pennsylvania man and a Colorado high school student died of carbon monoxide gas poisoning in two separate incidents.

75-year-old Pennsylvania Man Dies from Carbon Monoxide

carbonmonoxide-student page imageA 75-year-old Windber, Pennsylvania, man died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning while at the Allegany County Fairgrounds and his 76-year-old-wife was taken to a hospital in Cumberland reportedly in critical condition.

The couple started a gas generator only several feet from the rear of their 1989 Coachman recreational vehicle shortly before going to sleep, according to an Associated Press report. The generator’s exhaust was pointed toward the vehicle and fumes entered, causing the carbon monoxide exposure.

The next morning a passerby entered the vehicle and discovered the couple. Members of the Cumberland Fire Department administered first aid and William Miller was pronounced dead at the scene. His wife was taken to Western Maryland Regional Medical Center by Cresaptown Volunteer Fire Department ambulance.

Colorado Student Dies of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

In a separate incident one Cedaredge (Colorado) High School student died and one was in critical condition after three students were flown to a Denver hospital following an exposure to carbon monoxide gas in a camper trailer in which they were sleeping.

According to a KGWN report, all three are players for the Cedaredge High School football team.

Carbon Monoxide 665421563Kurt Clay, assistant superintendent for the Delta County School District 50J, said the three were sleeping in the camper when something caused them to be exposed to carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas that can cause brain damage or death when inhaled in sufficient quantities.

Carbon Monoxide: The Silent Killer

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas—often dubbed the Silent Killer— that is toxic and the number one cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States.

Carbon monoxide can kill quickly if inhaled in high concentrations and can be particularly dangerous in recreational vehicles.

It is produced by the incomplete combustion of solid, liquid, and gaseous fuels. Appliances fueled with gas, oil, kerosene, or wood may produce CO.

If such appliances are not installed, maintained, and used properly, carbon monoxide may accumulate to dangerous and even deadly levels in recreational vehicles, cars, homes, or poorly ventilated areas.

The symptoms of poisoning are similar to flu or food poisoning and include headaches, nausea, and dizziness.

Although not always experienced, the initial symptoms of carbon monoxide are similar to an upset stomach or the flu (but without the fever).

The symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Irregular breathing

Carbon Monoxide, Smoke & Propane Detectors

carbon_monoxide-300x225Most people change the batteries in their detectors annually, but did you know that the detector itself may be due for a replacement?

According to the USFA (U.S. Fire Administration), smoke detectors should be replaced every 8-10 years. In that time frame the detector takes air samples up to 4 million times. The components can wear or retain particles causing the unit to malfunction. As for Carbon Monoxide and LP gas detectors, most manufacturers say in order to function properly, they should be replaced every 5 years.

WHEN WERE YOUR DETECTORS REPLACED LAST?

Remember, the most precious cargo you carry is not in your storage compartment, it is in the seat belt next to you!

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.

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Don’t Let Your RV Dreams Go Up in Flames

Ensure your family’s safety while traveling in an RV by following these fire safety guidelines.

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

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.

fire_safetyBe 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.

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.

Two dogs die in N.Y. camper fire. (Source: Mark Gutman/Daily News)
Two dogs die in N.Y. camper fire. (Source: Mark Gutman/Daily News)

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.

Please Note: This is Part 2 of a 2-Part Series on RVs and Fire Safety

Part 1: Fires Destroy 7 RVs

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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Working Carbon Monoxide Detectors Can Save Lives

In an earlier post I reported that five people died in their sleep from carbon monoxide poisoning inside a rented camper at a bike rally in Clarksville, Tennessee.

Carbon Monoxide 665421563Investigators said the victims appeared to have been overcome by carbon monoxide fumes that leaked into the camper from a generator. The RV’s carbon monoxide detector, which could have prevented the deaths, was found to have no batteries.

I further reported on a bill that required working carbon monoxide detectors in leased recreational vehicles in Tennessee. The bill also holds RV rental companies responsible if they fail to document and test the CO detectors in their leased vehicles.

It is important to note that this law only applies to rentals. It is still imperative that personal RV owners stay diligent in testing and changing the batteries of the carbon monoxide detectors in their own recreational vehicles.

Carbon monoxide (CO), often called “the silent killer,” is an odorless, colorless gas that is toxic and the number one cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States. Carbon monoxide is created when fuels (such as kerosene, gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. Carbon monoxide can result from camping equipment, such as barbecue grills, portable generators, or other fuel-powered devices and is particularly dangerous in recreational vehicles.

The Tennessee State Fire Marshal Office urges campers to be aware of carbon monoxide dangers in and around tents and RVs.

“Carbon monoxide levels from barbecue grills or portable generators can increase quickly in enclosed spaces,” said Tennessee State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak.

“Campers should keep and use these items in well-ventilated areas to avoid fumes leaking into the openings or vents of RVs and tents.”

carbonmonoxide-student page imageSymptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include headache, nausea, and drowsiness. Extremely high levels of poisoning can be fatal, causing death within minutes. Anyone who suspects they are suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning should immediately move to a fresh air location and call 9-1-1 or the fire department.

The Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office offers the following Important Carbon Monoxide-Poisoning Prevention Tips:

  • ONLY USE barbecue grills outside, away from all doors, windows, vents, and other shelter openings
  • NEVER take lit or smoldering barbecue grills inside a home, tent, or RV
  • NEVER USE a fuel-powered lantern or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper/RV
  • ONLY USE portable generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from all doors, windows, vents and other building openings to prevent exhaust fumes from entering the RV
  • Install and maintain CO alarms inside homes and RVs to provide early warning of carbon monoxide

A carbon monoxide safety resource (carbonmonoxidekills.com) provides the following 14 safety precautions for RVs:

  • Use a carbon monoxide warning detector
  • Inspect your RV’s chassis and generator exhaust system regularly
  • 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 seals
  • 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
  • Do not operate your generator if the exhaust system is damaged in any way
  • 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
  • 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
  • When stopping for long periods of time, be aware of other vehicles around you that may have engines, refrigerators, or generators running
  • Do not sleep with the generator operating
  • Leave a roof vent open any time the generator is running (even during winter)
  • 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
  • Consider parking in a “no generator” zone at RV rallies

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.

Read More

Carbon Monoxide: The Silent Killer

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas—often dubbed the Silent Killer— that is toxic and the number one cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States.

Carbon Monoxide 665421563Carbon monoxide can kill quickly if inhaled in high concentrations and can be particularly dangerous in recreational vehicles.

It is produced by the incomplete combustion of solid, liquid, and gaseous fuels. Appliances fueled with gas, oil, kerosene, or wood may produce CO.

If such appliances are not installed, maintained, and used properly, carbon monoxide may accumulate to dangerous and even deadly levels in recreational vehicles, cars, homes, or poorly ventilated areas.

The symptoms of poisoning are similar to flu or food poisoning and include headaches, nausea, and dizziness.

Although not always experienced, the initial symptoms of carbon monoxide are similar to an upset stomach or the flu (but without the fever).

The symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Irregular breathing

It is critical to note that death from carbon monoxide poisoning can result with some or all of these symptoms never being experienced, in which case the overexposed victim simply falls asleep and never regains consciousness.

It is vital that RVers take the necessary precautions to avoid the tragic loss of life that can occur from carbon monoxide poisoning.

carbon_monoxide-300x225Never make the mistake of thinking that CO poisoning is a winter-only issue. It isn’t.

Tragic deaths occur every year from summertime carbon monoxide poisoning.

Generators can produce lethal doses of the gas.

A carbon monoxide safety resource (carbonmonoxidekills.com) provides the following 14 safety precautions for RVers.

The most important recommendation: USE A CARBON MONOXIDE WARNING DETECTOR. As is true of a smoke alarm, reliance on a CO detector is acceptable only if the device is in good working order and is tested periodically as directed by the manufacturer.

1. Use a carbon monoxide warning detector

2. Inspect your RV’s chassis and generator exhaust system regularly, at least before each outing and after bottoming out or any other incident that could cause damage

3. 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)

4. Inspect windows, door seals, and weather strips for effective seals

5. 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

6. Do not operate your generator if the exhaust system is damaged in any way or if an unusual noise is present

7. 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 that might prevent exhaust gases from dissipating as they should

8. 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

carbonmonoxide-student page image9. When stopping for long periods of time, be aware of other vehicles around you that may have engines, refrigerators, or generators running

10. Do not sleep with the generator operating

11. Leave a roof vent open any time the generator is running (even during winter)

12. 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 just to be sure

13. Have your built-in vacuum cleaner inspected to ensure that it does not exhaust on the underside of your RV

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

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.

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Make a Memorable Road Trip

A road trip, whether you do it on Sunday, Monday, or any other day of the week, isn’t about getting from Point A to Point B. It’s about the people, places, and things that you meet and see and experience along the way.

A fifth wheel trailer camped at Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
A fifth wheel trailer camped at Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With some advance preparation, the road trip can be one you will remember for a long time.

Tent or recreational vehicle

By now you’re almost ready to head out. The most important piece of equipment is your tent or recreational vehicle. While there are financial considerations for your choice of a home away from home, personal preference also plays a role.

For a family road trip, consider renting an RV, if you do not already own one. You’ll combine transportation and lodging costs. You’ll also cut down the food cost of restaurants as you can use the RV kitchen to prepare meals and snacks.

Travel trailer

This is the most common RV. A travel trailer is towed by a car, a van, SUV, or pick-up and the sizes, features, and prices are endless. Trailers now come with garages, roof top patios, bay windows, fireplaces, offices, hideaway beds, expanding sides, and lowering roofs.

Fifth wheel trailer

Fifth wheel trailers are towed by pick-up trucks with a special fifth-wheel hitch, they generally have taller ceilings and more slide-out rooms. Fifth wheels are the most spacious RVs available, but don’t let the size intimidate you, they are easy to tow.

Truck camper

Check out new and used recreational vehicles at Camping World or your local RV dealer.
Check out new and used recreational vehicles at Camping World or your local RV dealer.

Truck campers are designed to ride in a pick-up truck bed and can provide all the conveniences of larger RVs including slide outs. The benefit is that the truck is still free to tow boats, car carriers, ATVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles, or even a horse trailer. It’s easy and economical especially for anyone who owns a pickup truck.

Class A motorhome

Class A motorhomes typically resembling a bus are constructed on a specially designed motorhome chassis. Powered by gas or diesel engines, these units may have multiple slide-out sections that open up the living space.

Class C motorhome

The Class C motorhome has a distinctive cab-over bunk that makes this RV easy to recognize. Built on a commercial cut-away van chassis, Class Cs are available in various lengths; many have slide-out rooms and optional extras.

Class B motorhome

Also called camper van, the Class B motorhome is an engineering marvel! Kitchens and washrooms with showers and they sleep up to four people; all in a slightly stretched full-size van often with a raised roof. easy to drive and park, Class Bs are powered by gas or diesel engines, fit in a normal parking space, have excellent fuel economy, and can be used as a second vehicle.

Maintain Smoke, carbon monoxide, and propane detectors

Your RV of the future?
Your RV of the future?

Recently a 73 year-old woman in California died in an RV fire; two smoke alarms inside the RV were not working because they had no batteries.

In Louisiana two people died of carbon monoxide poisoning while they were in a pop-up camper that was inside a metal building. The cause was a generator that was used for electricity for an electric heater. The generator was inside the building.

Smoke alarms should be tested monthly, and the batteries changed at least once annually.

Many people use the time change as a reminder to change the batteries in their detectors.

Be sure you know the life of your alarm — most are 10 years, although some are five — and replace it when the time has expired.

Please Note: This is Part 2 of a 2-part series

Part 1: Planning a Successful Camping Trip

Worth Pondering…

It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.

—Eleanor Roosevelt.

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More Space Heater Fires Destroy Pets & RVs

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

A fire started by a space heater in a travel trailer spread to a second trailer, a car, and a home just. (Credit: Avra Valley Fire Department)
A fire started by a space heater in a travel trailer spread to a second trailer, a car, and a home just. (Credit: Avra Valley Fire Department)

In an earlier post I reported that four small dogs died and an RV was destroyed in a fire caused by a propane space heater.

In today’s post I report on two RV fires caused by careless use of space heaters.

Arizona Fire Started by Space Heater

A fire started by a space heater in a travel trailer spread to a second trailer, a car, and a home in Picacho, reports the Arizona Daily Star.

When units from the Avra Valley Fire District arrived on scene they found heavy flames and smoke coming from a masonry-built home, Patrick Calhoun, spokesman for the fire district, said in a news release. A car and two travel trailers also were ablaze. It took two engines and two water tenders to extinguish the fires.

Potential space heater fire (Source: familyhandyman.com)
Potential space heater fire (Source: familyhandyman.com)

“The fire was believed to have had started in one of the travel trailers when the resident living in the travel trailer turned on a space heater,” Calhoun said.

The fire then spread to the house, car, and another travel trailer on the property. Damage is estimated at $225,000.

“The units from the Avra Valley Fire District went about eight miles out of our normal response area to fight the fire,” Calhoun said. “This is due to the fact that the town of Picacho is a no-man’s land for fire coverage.”

Calhoun warns that space heaters require at least three feet of clearance area around them. When selecting a space heater, he suggested buying one with a guard around the flame area or the heating element and one that has been tested and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.

Calhoun’s other tips include:

  • Buy a heater that is the correct size for the area that needs to be warmed
  • Ensure everyone knows how to property operate the heater
  • Never leave a space heater turned on when going to bed or leaving the room
  • Keep doors open when using a fuel-burning heater, to reduce the risk of dangerous levels of carbon monoxide accumulating
  • Be aware that RVs require specially designated heating equipment and only electric or vented fuel-fired heaters should be used

Pets Die in Space Heater RV Fire

A dramatic RV fire sent smoke into the air over Boise, Idaho. Firefighters were there within minutes, but they couldn’t save the trailer or the pets inside, reports KTVB.

Boise Fire Marshal Romeo Gervais says the fire started near the back of the RV where there were two space heaters. The owner indicated that one is left on all the time to keep her pets warm.

Gervais provided KTVB listeners with advice on what makes space heaters dangerous and how to use them safely.

Probably the biggest concern is clearance to combustibles and/or children or pets. When you deal with space heaters, you need to keep at least three feet or so clear around them and keep them out of the reach of children and pets. Pets can easily knock them over or children can get burned on them.

(Source: firesafetycouncil.com)
(Source: firesafetycouncil.com)

Plug space heaters directly into an outlet: don’t use extension cords or power strips.
Ensure your space heater has tip-over protection and overheat protection, both of which will force a shut-off if there’s a problem.

Purchase a space heater with covers or guards over the working parts of the heater to prevent burns. This is especially important if you have children or pets.

Space heaters, including wood stoves, are responsible for a third of all home heating fires, and four out of five deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Most of those fires were started because the heaters were too close to flammable things, like furniture.

In addition to space heater safety, Gervais says not to use ovens or stoves as heat sources. He also says to avoid fire and exposure to carbon monoxide, don’t use outdoor fuel heaters, like those meant for camping, indoors.

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.

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