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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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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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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RV Fire Safety

There is no shortage of news stories about devastating losses due to various weather conditions. Now that summer is here, the weather becomes ripe for wildfires and forest fires.

Don't let this happen to you.
Don’t let this happen to you. (Source: RV Alliance America)

I seems that the entire West is burning with reports of devastating fires in the Northwest Territories in northern Canada south to California, Arizona, and New Mexico.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) on average, there are more than 106,000 wildfire forest fires each year in the US.

An equally staggering number is there are as many as 20,000 recreational vehicle fires reported each year. These numbers reflect the importance of fire safety and fire prevention to the RV lifestyle.

RV Fire Safety

The most common causes of fires in an RV include:

Transmission fluid leaking

12-volt electrical system/short circuit

Fuel leak

Open propane flames/unattended stove

Unattended space heater

Over 20,000 recreational vehicle fires reported each year.
Over 20,000 recreational vehicle fires reported each year. (Source: doityourselfrv.com)

An unnoticed flat on a towed vehicle

Spontaneous combustion from damp charcoal

Birds or critters in your flue

Batteries

Hot exhaust pipe

Use of an inadequate extension cord

What you need to know about fire extinguishers

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

If you can’t put the fire out in the first 30 seconds, leave it to the fire department.

Remember that your life and the lives of those traveling with you are more important than anything, absolutely anything, in the recreational vehicle.

Don’t try to rescue belongings, they can always be replaced but lives can’t be. Never re-enter a burning RV to retrieve anything—GET OUT & STAY OUT!

All RVs and towed vehicles should be equipped with fire extinguishers.

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.

The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) requires that you keep one with a minimum rating of 5BC at each exit.

For additional protection, go with the ABC type, which can be used to put out all different types of fires. Check your extinguishers regularly to make sure they are operational. (Just because the needle shows in the green dot does not necessarily mean it’s working.)

Ensure you and everyone else traveling in the RV knows how to operate fire extinguishers. You can print the helpful acronym “PASS” (listed below) and put next to your extinguishers as a reminder.

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

Pull the pin at the top of the extinguisher to release a locking mechanism.

Aim at the base of the fire, not the flames.

Squeeze the lever slowly to release the agent in the extinguisher.

Sweep from side to side, moving the fire extinguisher back and forth along the base until the fire is out.

Make a plan and prevent checklist

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.

Smoke detectors are required. Get a UL217 to be in code with NFPA mandates.

Check all hoses, wires, and connections before every trip and during a monthly fire check.

Eyeball your tires at each stop when you’re on a road trip.

Ensure everyone knows what the smoke alarm sounds like and what to do when they hear it.

Educate all passengers on using a fire extinguisher.

Ensure all passengers know how to use the exits; not all doors open the same.

Review “stop, drop, and roll” technique with passengers.

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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Talking Points: Practice RV Fire Safety

More than 12,500 recreation vehicle fires are reported annually with 50 percent resulting in total loss.

Arizona: Mechanical Failure Cause of Motorhome Fire That Kills Owner (Source: Phoenix Fire Department)
Arizona: Mechanical Failure Cause of Motorhome Fire That Kills Owner (Source: Phoenix Fire Department)

The number of RV fires expands to more than 20,000 when estimates of unreported fires are included with motorhomes accounting for 80 percent of all fires, according to a Recreational Vehicle Aftermarket Association (RVAA) report.

Arizona: Mechanical Failure Cause of Motorhome Fire That Kills Owner

KPHO-TV reports that a man was trapped and killed in a recreational vehicle fire. He was unable to escape the burning RV parked in front of his home.

The victim’s nephew was seriously burned but managed to escape, said Capt. Scott Walker of the Phoenix Fire Department. He suffered second- and third-degree burns to his upper body.

The nephew said they had been working on the RV outside their home and while moving it out of the driveway, heard a loud boom, which led to the fire, according to Phoenix fire investigators.

“Our first unit was on scene in about three minutes, and when they arrived they had a large motorhome well involved,” Walker said.

“About half the unit was actually fully involved in fire and smoke.”

Walker said it appeared a mechanical failure sparked the fire.

Washington: Refrigerator Sparks Camper Fire

Washington: Refrigerator Sparks Camper Fire (Credit: Joe Smillie/peninsuladailynews.com)
Washington: Refrigerator Sparks Camper Fire (Credit: Joe Smillie/peninsuladailynews.com)

The Peninsula Daily News reports a fire ripped through an unoccupied truck camper and endangered a large garage in Port Angeles.

Clallam County Fire District No. 3 spokesman Patrick Young said the fire began in the camper’s refrigerator but was unsure whether faulty wiring was to blame for the fire.

Crews from the Sequim and Port Angeles fire districts put the fire out in about 10 minutes.

The blaze ripped a hole through the center of the camper near its refrigerator, destroying the structure, Young said. The fire did not affect propane tanks on the camper.

Colorado: Motorhome Fire Burns in Front of Potential Buyer

KDVR-TV reports a motorhome caught fire when the owner started the ignition to show it to a potential buyer. According to the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, the entire 34-foot motorhome was eventually engulfed in flames.

Investigators said they found nothing suspicious and believe the fire may have started due to rodent nests or already existing damage — the vehicle had not been turned on in over two years.

The RV was considered a total loss, said deputies, but no other property was damaged and no injuries were reported.

Virginia: Electrical Fire Destroys Diesel Pusher

Virginia: Electrical Fire Destroys Diesel Pusher (Credit: Erica Yoon/roanoke.com)
Virginia: Electrical Fire Destroys Diesel Pusher (Credit: Erica Yoon/roanoke.com)

The Roanoke Times reports a Monaco Diplomat Class A motorhome caught fire in the parking lot of the Roanoke Civic Center as families were heading inside to see the Kazim Temple Shrine Circus.

When Roanoke Fire-EMS arrived at the fire the motorhome was fully engulfed in flames. The fire damaged three RVs in the parking lot full of other trucks and circus equipment, but only one RV had severe damage. Two adults and two children were displaced from the fire, according to fire department spokeswoman Tiffany Bradbury. There were no injuries.

Bradbury said the cause of the was ruled as electrical. Damage estimates are approximately $200,000.

California: Cooking Sparks Motorhome Fire in Parking Lot

KTVU-TV reports a motorhome was destroyed in a fire outside of a Walgreens in San Francisco’s Cow Hollow neighborhood.

California: Cooking Sparks Motorhome Fire in Parking Lot (Source: ktvu.com)
California: Cooking Sparks Motorhome Fire in Parking Lot (Source: ktvu.com)

The fire appears to have started while the man was cooking inside the vehicle, according to a fire official. A man who was in the motorhome was able to get out of the burning vehicle on his own.

Crews were able to quickly extinguish the flames, which had engulfed the motorhome.

Be sure to keep combustibles away from the stove. Stay in the area while cooking; food or items such paper towels and curtains may be ignited by the stove.

Remember, Safety First, and Happy RVing!

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

BURMA SHAVE

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On Preventing RV Fires: 6 Case Studies

A RV fire is no joking matter.

Virginia: Mechanical Failure Causes Motorhome Fire (Credit: Sid Choudhari)
Virginia: Mechanical Failure Causes Motorhome Fire (Credit: Sid Choudhari)

When a RV fire breaks out, you may have little time to get out of your RV. That’s why every time you hit the road or use your RV when parked, you need a RV exit strategy. Every member of your family should know what to do in the event of a fire, or any emergency, to ensure their safety.

Approximately 20,000 RV fires are reported each year. These numbers reflect how important fire safety and fire prevention are to the RV lifestyle.

Virginia: Mechanical Failure Causes Motorhome Fire

ARLnow.com reports a Class C motorhome caught fire on southbound Route 1 in Crystal City.

The Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) and Virginia State Police were the first responders to the scene. According to ACFD spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani, three people were inside the RV when the fire started, but they all escaped the vehicle safely and no injuries were reported. The fire is believed to have been caused by a mechanical failure in the engine block.

“The driver didn’t notice the fire at first, just that the car was acting funny and he smelled smoke. They happened to pass by a Virginia State Police officer who saw that the car was on fire and flagged them down,” Marchegiani said

Arizona: Engine Fire Engulfs Motorhome

Arizona: Engine Fire Engulfs Motorhome (Credit: Pinion Pine Fire District)
Arizona: Engine Fire Engulfs Motorhome (Credit: Pinion Pine Fire District)

The Pinion Pine Fire District blog reports that four units were dispatched to Interstate 40 at the 62 mile marker eastbound for a reported RV on fire. Units arrived in roughly 10 minutes to find a Class A Diesel Pusher involved with a quarter acre brush fire.

The cause of the fire is unknown but the occupants believe it started in the engine compartment. No injuries were reported.

Texas: Overloaded Extension Cords Spark RV Fire

Newswest9.com reports a fire in Midland County totally destroyed an RV and jumped to a couple of storage sheds nearby.

The person who was sleeping inside the RV was fortunate to make it out alive. Officials say several extension cords from a breaker box sparked the flames.

Massachusetts: Mouse Nest Sparks Fire

The Cape Cod Times reports a 2001 Gulf Stream Cruiser was destroyed after the owner turned on appliances and likely ignited a mouse nest, according to Deputy Fire Chief Robert Brown. There were no injuries. The owner was cleaning out the 2001 Gulf Stream Cruiser at the time of the fire.

Ohio: Space Heater & Fresh Paint a Deadly Combination

WKBN-TV reports a Youngstown man died after being burned by a fire that was sparked by a space heater.

Texas: Overloaded Extension Cords Spark RV Fire (Source: newswest9.com)
Texas: Overloaded Extension Cords Spark RV Fire (Source: newswest9.com)

The Summit County Medical Examiner’s office said he was painting a bathroom at Green Acres Lake Park in Diamond, just east of Lake Milton, when he was seen emerging from the bathroom engulfed in flames. The man was using the space heater to keep warm as he worked. He was taken to an Akron hospital, where he died the next day.

Maryland: Kerosene Heater Sparks Trailer Fire That Kills Owner

WBOC-TV reports one person died after a fire broke out in a camper style trailer in Queen Anne’s County.

Investigators from the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Maryland State Police said they found the body of a 59-year-old man after the fire was brought under control. They said his wife escaped the fire unharmed and explained that her husband had ignited a kerosene heater, which caused some spilled kerosene to ignite on the floor around him.

During the on-scene investigation, it was determined no smoke alarms were located inside the trailer.

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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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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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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