Conduct a Pre-Trip Safety Check

Many accidents are caused by simple forgetfulness or inattention to detail: Leaving cabinet or cargo doors unlatched, TV antenna up, or steps extended.

RV Park at Rolling Hills Casino, Corning, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
RV Park at Rolling Hills Casino, Corning, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A pre-trip safety check and inspection is an essential step in preparing to exit your camping site. Unlike commercial drivers who can be fired for failure to perform a pre-trip safety check, many RV drivers fail to do so out of laziness.

That is the reason you may see RVers exit a campsite while still plugged into a power source or with their awnings fully extended.

Create a step-by-step pre-trip safety checklist, and like a pilot on a jet, conduct a final walk-around visual inspection before driving away from your camping site.

If you fail to perform a pre-trip safety check, you will have a problem. If not today or tomorrow, at some time in the future.

NEVER assume that everything is OK: ALWAYS do your SAFETY CHECKS to make sure that everything REALLY is OK!

Pre-Drive Safety Checklist: Interior

Long Point County Park, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Long Point County Park, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Secure all loose items: Toaster/toaster oven/coffee maker/dishes

Ensure stove burners and oven are in off position

Lower roof vents

Securely latch cabinet and closet doors

Close roof vents and windows

Turn OFF air conditioner/heat pump/furnace

Turn OFF refrigerator and securely latch doors

Turn OFF water pump

Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Turn OFF interior RV lights

Fully retract slides and secure

Fully retract TV antenna/roof-top satellite dish/exterior steps

Pre-Drive Safety Checklist: Exterior

Pack and secure all outside items: Mats/chairs/grills/bikes

Check oil/transmission/coolant levels and condition of belts/hoses

Check under the rig for signs of fluid leaks

Check tire inflation pressure and adjust as required; inspect tires for cracks/uneven tread wear

Check RV wheel lug nut torque

Retract and secure patio and window awnings

Check slide toppers for water and debris

Empty black/gray tanks and close valves

Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Disconnect and store power cord/cable TV cord/Satellite TV cord/water hose/sewer hose

Turn OFF propane at tank

Retract/remove stabilizer jacks

Store leveling blocks/boards

Close/latch/lock all doors/exterior bins

Tow bar and safety cables in place

Check head lights/fog lights/signal lights/4-way hazard lights/clearance lights/brake lights

Check surroundings for hazards before departure: Low branches/ground obstacles

Check campsite to ensure it’s clean and no items are left behind

Final 360-degree RV walk-around

NEVER assume that everything is OK: ALWAYS do your SAFETY CHECKS to make sure that everything REALLY is OK!

Remember, Safety First, and Happy RVing!

Worth Pondering…

Have you put…

Step up

Antenna down

Wife in?

—sign at a Dickson, Tennessee campground

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5 Essential RV Checks

Driving an RV is like driving a small house around the country—down highways, through back roads, and up and over mountain passes.

Know Your Height. Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Know Your Height. Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And as more people join the RV lifestyle, it becomes increasingly important that RVers have a basic understanding of common RV accidents and how best to avoid them.

Most of the common RV accidents can be avoided by preventative maintenance, proactive attentiveness, and not overlooking the obvious. The basics are essential, yet they are the checkpoints many RVers miss.

Whether you are a newcomer to the world of RVing or someone who has seen it all, there’s a lesson to be learned from the simple stuff.

1. Remember the Basics

RVing is so much more satisfying when you really get to know your rig. When you’re thoroughly familiar with your coach, it’s easier to notice when things aren’t quite right.

Your owner’s manual should be your starting point.

To ensure you’re covering the basics, include the following essential RV checks in your daily travel routine:

2. Know Your Height

Know Your Height. Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Know Your Height. Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip.

In order to keep your RV in one piece and avoid getting hung up—literally— consider the following guidelines:

  • Pay close attention to posted clearance measurements
  • Know the height of your RV and place a sticky note on the dashboard with your exact height remembering to include the A/C

“We’ll probably fit” does not cut it—don’t take the risk

3. Conduct a Pre-Drive Safety Check

Know Your Height. Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Know Your Height. Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many accidents are caused by simple forgetfulness: leaving doors unlatched, awnings up or steps extended. Use a step-by-step checklist and conduct a final walk-around visual inspection before driving away. A pre-departure checklist should include the following:

  • Check oil, transmission, and coolant levels
  • Check tire inflation pressure and adjust as required
  • Power cord, water and sewer hoses disconnected and stowed securely
  • Ensure all signal, four-way hazard, brake, running, and fog lights are operational
  • TV antenna, satellite dish, roof vents, jacks, steps, and awnings fully retracted
  • Turn propane off at the tank
  • Tow bar and safety cables in place
  • Check under the rig for signs of fluid leaks
  • Check your surroundings for hazards before departure, e.g. weather, low branches, and obstacles sticking out of the ground
  • Final 360-degree walk-around the RV before getting in the driver’s seat and leaving for your next destination

4. Connecting to City Water Hookups 

Be certain to ALWAYS use your water regulator when hooking up to city water. And make darn sure that the water regulator is on the end of the hose that hooks to city water. The regulator should be at the water-spigot end, not the RV end, between the city water faucet and your inlet connection.

Why? Pressure is regulated into your coach through the hose. An incorrect hookup won’t protect you from pressure spikes, especially when campground water pressure exceeds 100 psi. You do not want your water hose to burst.

If you’re staying at an RV park during extended periods of freezing temperatures, remember to wrap your water hose with insulation to protect against the elements.

Check your surroundings for hazards before departure, e.g. weather, low branches, and obstacles sticking out of the ground © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Check your surroundings for hazards before departure, e.g. weather, low branches, and obstacles sticking out of the ground © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Managing Waste Water Disposal 

Black tank management is part of the RV lifestyle. Some RVers think that by leaving the valves open, everything will run out and take care of itself. Not true! Liquid will run out of the black tank when you have the valves open, but solid waste often remains creating a most disagreeable situation. You need fluids to flush out the solids. It is important to keep the black tank valve closed until you are ready to dump. Dump the contents once the black tank is 3/4 full.

Worth Pondering…

Have you put…

Step up

Antenna down

Wife in?

—sign at a Dickson, Tennessee campground

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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.

Read More

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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Preparing Your RV For Winter

Fall is fast approaching, and not far behind another long, northern winter. As the colder weather sets in, those in the Northern climes either snowbird south for the winter or prepare their recreational vehicle for another winter of ice, snow, and freezing temperatures.

Preparing Your RV For Winter
Preparing Your RV For Winter

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang
Upon the boughs that shake against the cold
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

In Sonnet 73, William Shakespeare makes reference to autumn.

Oh, Autumn, that time of year when the earth changes colors before our very eyes, temperatures start to dip, the light begins to fade away, and RVs are readying for their long winter’s nap.

In true Shakespearean style, let’s count the fourteen things (as in the fourteen lines of a sonnet) that will help prepare your RV for the winter:

Perform end-of-season RV repairs. As with any vehicle that will be sitting for a period of time, it is necessary to take care of any minor or major problems that would be worsened by inactivity and weather.

Check roof for leaks, dents, or tears. Clean and examine the roof for sealant wear or other damage, and repair it. Also ensure that the seals around the doors and outside compartments are working correctly. This will also help to prevent the cold weather from getting in. To ensure that these seals and compartment locks do not freeze up, a graphite lubricant can be applied to the locks and a silicone lubricant can be sprayed around the door and compartment edges.

Preparing Your RV For Winter
Preparing Your RV For Winter

Remove personal items. Inspect the interior living space. Food including canned goods and bottles, bedding, towels (kitchen, bathroom, swim), leisure activities (books, board games, coloring books/crayons, arts/crafts supplies) and other essentials that may be needed during the winter should be stowed away and relocated or packed in an organized manner until spring.

Inventory items remaining in RV. Anything that will be left in the RV, such as kitchen tools and utensils, or bathroom toiletries, should be added to a list and filed with important RV paperwork. If at any time there is a question or concern about what has remained within the unit, this list will serve as a source of referral during the off-season.

Clean refrigerator. Remove all foodstuffs, clean the refrigerator thoroughly, and leave it open a crack. This helps prevent mildew.

Clean the RV. Clean the entire RV, interior and exterior, including all storage areas. Empty gray/black water holding tanks. Dump and flush both black and gray water holding tanks, in an appropriate manner, especially the black water tank. It is not acceptable to empty tanks in a city drain; always use a designated RV dump station.

Winterize water system. The primary concern when winterizing the RV is to ensure the water system is protected against damage caused by freezing. Drain the fresh water tank and hot water heater. Fully back flush the water system to remove all water from the lines. Add RV antifreeze to the system (NEVER, NEVER, NEVER use automobile antifreeze in your RVs water system). Open each faucet, one at a time, until the red-colored antifreeze appears. Don’t forget the shower and toilet. Leave gray water valve open. Shut the faucets.

Preparing Your RV For Winter
Preparing Your RV For Winter

RV tire covers. RV tires are especially vulnerable to the elements. Tire covers help protect tires from the sun’s harmful UV rays in the summer and from damage caused by wind, rain, snow, and freezing temperatures during the winter. Keeping your tires and wheels covered when you store your RV also helps to keep them cleaner and make them last longer and look better at the same time. Tires that are left uncovered can crack and become brittle, causing them to go flat before their time. Secure the tire covers firmly to your tires so that they don’t fly off in windy conditions. Tires should be clean, and kept off the ground during storage; boards work well. Ensure the recommended tire pressure is maintained.

Dehumidifiers. To prevent condensation buildup and help keep mold from forming, place dehumidifiers in each room and outside storage areas.

Remove batteries. Depending on the length of time your RV will be sitting, it may be beneficial to remove batteries to extend their life. Never store batteries directly on concrete.

Cover exterior. Store your RV in a covered area or cover with a tarp for added protection.

Consult owner’s manual. Be sure to check your owner’s manual and follow any additional information on storage, cleaning, and winterizing procedures.

LP gas. Turn off propane valve at the tank.

In conclusion. This list of 14 tips is a good place to start when creating your own winter-ready checklist.

Worth Pondering…

Now is the winter of our discontent.

—William Shakespeare

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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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Never Run Out of Propane With GasWatch

The new Smart GasWatch Scale makes sure you never run out of propane, a true “peace of mind” innovation that will keep the BBQ grill fired up while camping in the RV or tailgating.

Never Run Out of Propane With GasWatch
Never Run Out of Propane With GasWatch

“Summer may be ending soon, but many households rely on the grill year ‘round and the new Smart GasWatch Scale is ideal for BBQ grills and wintertime heaters that use propane tanks as a source of fuel,” said Shaliendra Suman, the North Carolina technology entrepreneur who first introduced an analog version of GasWatch product 10 years ago.

“This week, we’re introducing two new models of the Smart GasWatch Scale and both are available now on Amazon.com, and at GasWatch.com.”

The original GasWatch Model TVL212, which is still available, uses an analog gauge to estimate remaining fuel in a propane tank.

“We first introduced the GasWatch gauges as a simple way to solve a very frustrating problem—running out of propane in the middle of a cookout,” said Suman, who was recognized this year by the Mayor of Charlotte with an Entrepreneur of the Year award.

“Now we’ve enhanced GasWatch to offer a simple and cost-effective way to keep an eye on how much gas is left in the tank just by monitoring the weight of the tank itself. For about the cost of a single tank refill, you can always know how much cooking time is left on your current tank.”

Never Run Out of Propane With GasWatch
Never Run Out of Propane With GasWatch

The new GasWatch Digital Scale provides peace of mind with a digital display of how much gas remains in the propane tank, a real-time calculation of remaining cooking time, and convenient audible alerts at the 20 percent, 15 percent, and 10 percent remaining fuel levels. Since the GasWatch Digital Scale simply measures tank weight, it is very accurate and safe to use, said Suman.

“We designed the new Smart GasWatch Scale to fit into most grill cabinets and patio heaters, and it is built to withstand ever-changing weather conditions,” said Suman.

“The new GasWatch is easy to set up and requires no tools. Simply place the tank on the scale, select the tank weight and the scale is ready-to-go.”

There is no connection to the propane tank so there is no worry of any type of leakage with this product. The tank just sits on the scale.

If your grill has a cabinet it fits neatly inside with the digital display placed outside for ease of reading.

The new Smart GasWatch Scale resembles a large plastic “doughnut” that sits under the propane tank and is available in two different models.

The basic Model TVL 216 features a digital readout fixed to the circular baseplate and is available at a suggested retail price of $24.95.

Model TVL 214 includes a 4.5 foot wire to connect the baseplate to a remote digital readout (allowing display placement closer to the cooking area) and carries a suggested retail price of $29.95.

Never Run Out of Propane With GasWatch
Never Run Out of Propane With GasWatch

How it works: The tank weight is selected on the display when the tank is placed on the scale. The display will list the percentage of gas available and the cook time remaining due to the current weight and the selected tank weight. The display also includes a low level alarm that sounds when the remaining tank weight is at 20 percent, 15 percent, and 10 percent.

Details

GasWatch

Address: 165 South Trade St., Matthews NC 28105

Website: www.gaswatch.com

Worth Pondering…

I hope you dance because…

Time is a wheel.

Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along.

Tell me, who wants to look back on their years and wonder where their years have gone.

—Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers, I Hope You Dance

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