Posted by: Mark Polk | 7:23 am

Check your RV Safety Stuff

Every RVer should know what safety devices are available on their RV, and understand how to use them. Most RVs regardless of what type or what size it is will come equipped with several different safety devices. RVs come with fire extinguishers, LP gas leak detectors, smoke alarms, emergency escape windows, and in many cases carbon monoxide detectors.

Fire Extinguisher: Let’s start with the fire extinguisher. Every RVer needs to understand the different types or classes of fire extinguishers and how to properly use a fire extinguisher.  Teach everybody that will be in the RV to remember the word PASS. This is an easy way to remember how to use a fire extinguisher, especially during an emergency. PASS stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze and Sweep.

P– Pull the pin located at the top of the fire extinguisher.

A– Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire, not at the flames.

S– Squeeze the handle or trigger, standing approximately 8 feet away from the fire. Release the handle if you want it to stop.

S– Sweep the nozzle side to side at the base of the fire until it is out. Observe the fire to make sure it does not re-ignite.

Note: Check the individual fire extinguisher for the distance you should stand from the fire. Different extinguishing agents require different distances.

Fire Extinguisher Maintenance:
Inspect your fire extinguishers every 30 days & before each trip. Look to see if the arrow is pointing in the green area in the sight gauge. If it reads empty or needs charging replace it or have it recharged immediately. Inspect all components of the extinguisher to make sure it is in proper operating condition. Inspect the safety pin, handle or trigger, sight gauge indicator, inspection tag, hose or nozzle, tank, and labeling. Every month you should turn dry powder extinguishers upside down, tap on the bottom of the extinguisher and shake it so the powder that settled on the bottom is released. If the powder is packed in the bottom of the extinguisher it may not discharge properly, or at all, when you need it.

LP Gas Leak Detector: Your RV also has an LP gas leak detector. This leak detector will set off an alarm to alert you if there is a potential gas leak. It’s usually located close to floor level because LP gas is heavier than air and it will settle towards the floor. If you ever smell LP gas when you’re camping, or if the LP gas leak detector goes off you could have a leak somewhere in the system. If this happens you should:

  • Extinguish any open flames, pilot lights and do not smoke, or touch electrical switches.
  • Evacuate the RV and turn off the main gas supply valve.
  • Leave the door open and do not return to the area until the odor clears.
  • Have the system checked out by a qualified technician before using it again.

False LP gas alarms can be caused by hair spray, perfume, cleaning solvents and low battery voltage. When ever you have the LP gas refilled or when stopping to refuel the RV all LP gas appliances should be turned off and the main gas supply valve should be turned off.

Smoke Alarm: A properly working, battery operated smoke detector is critical. Test the alarm mechanism prior to each trip you take to make sure it is working properly.  Change the batteries when you change your clocks twice a year. If you remove the batteries from any safety device while the RV is in storage remove the device from the wall or ceiling and place it where it can easily be seen as a reminder the next time you use the RV.

CO Detector: Most RVs come equipped with carbon monoxide detectors. If yours didn’t, it’s a good idea to purchase a battery operated carbon monoxide detector designed for use in RV’s. You never know when you might be parked next to an RV that is running a generator. Carbon monoxide detectors should be located on a wall close to the ceiling since carbon monoxide is lighter than oxygen. Test the detector before each trip to make sure it is operating properly. Read the owners manual so you thoroughly understand how it works. And know what the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are:

  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Muscular twitching
  • Intense headache
  • Throbbing in the temples
  • Weakness and sleepiness
  • Inability to think coherently

If you or anyone else experiences any of these symptoms get to fresh air immediately. If the symptoms persist seek medical attention.

Additional Safety Notes:

Never use the range burners or oven as a source of heat. These LP gas appliances are not vented outside and because of the limited space inside the RV the lack of oxygen can lead to asphyxiation. When you do use the range top burners or the oven for cooking use the range vent fan and/or open a window.

Have an emergency escape plan. RV’s come equipped with an emergency escape window. Make sure everybody knows where the escape window is located and how to use it. It’s a good idea to practice using it so you are familiar with how to get out of the RV in case of an emergency.

For more information on RV safety check out our full-feature RV Safety DVD or RV Safety E-book

Have a great camping season, and Happy RV Learning,

Mark Polk

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Copyright by Mark Polk owner of RV Education 101 – All Rights Reserved


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