Motor Homes - RV Safety
Are RV's Dangerous to Own and Operate?
by Graham Richards
After giving this some thought I realized that this one
short question covered a very large spectrum. There was
no quick or easy response to this question. I responded
by saying that in most cases it's not the RV that is dangerous,
but the individual that is operating the RV that is dangerous.
I gave some examples of unsafe acts that I have witnessed
like carrying a full spare LP gas bottle inside the RV,
sleeping in the RV with the generator running and never
weighing the RV or checking the inflation pressure in
I told them when they begin their search for their RV
the first thing to verify is that the RV manufacturer
is a member of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association
(RVIA). If they are the RV will have an oval shaped RVIA
seal displayed on the exterior, usually by the entrance
door. This seal means that the RV manufacturer is in compliance
with more than 500 safety requirements regarding electrical,
plumbing, heating, and fire and life safety. These safety
requirements are established under the American National
Standards Institute (ANSI) A119.2 Standard for Recreation
Vehicles. This should put to rest any concerns you may
have about the RV itself being safe when it is manufactured.
explained that the next step is to educate yourself on
the systems of an RV and what is required to operate the
RV safely and properly. If you're going to be towing a
three or four ton travel trailer, or driving a six ton
plus motor home you need to understand the importance
of proper hitch work, weights and driving techniques.
I also explained that anytime you are dealing with petroleum
products like LP gas and gasoline generators there is
cause for concern, but if handled properly there is nothing
to worry about. A good place to start is with our RV video
and DVD library.
In no particular order, I offer the following advice concerning
* Take care of your RV's tires and they will take care
of you. When you're not using your RV keep the tires covered
to protect them from the damaging affects of ozone in
the air and UV rays from the sun. Invest in a quality
inflation pressure gauge and check the tire pressure in
all tires every time you use the RV. Check and adjust
the pressure when the tires are cold, before you move
it. Maintain the pressure recommended by the manufacturer.
Consult the owner's manual for proper tire inflation and
never exceed the maximum pressure located on the tire
* Weigh your RV and tow vehicle. The only way to know
if the weight is properly distributed and that you are
within the allowable weight ratings for the RV and tow
vehicle is to have them weighed. Look for certified platform
scales in your yellow pages under moving companies or
truck stops. When you weigh your RV and tow vehicle have
them fully loaded for travel to include passengers, cargo,
fuel, personal belongings, and full fresh water and propane
tanks. Verify that you do not exceed any manufacturer
weight ratings such as, the Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings
(GVWR), Gross Combined Weight Ratings (GCWR), and Gross
Axle Weight Ratings (GAWR). NEVER exceed any manufacturer
weight ratings. It is quite possible to be within the
weight ratings, but still exceed a tire rating. This is
why you must weigh each axle end separately to insure
that the load is within the capacity of the axles, wheels
and tires and to see if the load is properly distributed.
* Have the LP gas system inspected every spring before
using the RV. Take your RV to a qualified service center
and let them check the LP gas system for proper appliance
operating pressure and to check the system for leaks.
Familiarize yourself with the odorant added to LP gas
to assist you in detecting a leak, and what to do if there
is a gas leak. If you smell LP gas or the leak detector
alarm goes off: 1. Extinguish any open flames and pilot
lights. 2. Do not touch electrical switches. 3. Shut off
the gas supply at the tank valve(s) or gas supply connection.
4. Open the doors and windows and leave the area until
the odor clears. 5. Have the LP gas system checked and
repaired by a qualified technician before using the system
* It is not recommended that you travel with the LP gas
turned on. If you do have the gas on while traveling turn
off each individual pilot light, appliance, and the main
gas supply before refueling.
* The onboard generator makes your RV fully self-contained.
It allows you access to 120 volts when there is no shore
power available, but keep in mind that carbon monoxide
is deadly! NEVER sleep in the RV with the generator running!
Before you start and use the generator inspect the exhaust
system. Do not use it if the exhaust system is damaged.
Test the carbon monoxide detector every time you use the
RV. Know what the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
are: 1. Dizziness 2. Vomiting 3. Nausea 4. Muscular twitching
5. Intense headache 6. Throbbing in the temples 7. Weakness
and sleepiness 8. 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. Shut the generator down and do not operate
it until it has been inspected and repaired by a professional.
Keep in mind, this is a very short list. There are many
other safety issues involved in owning and operating an
RV, but by practicing common sense, and through education,
RV ownership is not only safe, it's lots of fun.
Copyright (c) 2005 by Graham Richards - Feel free to check
out the best of camper hire at Helderberg Camper Hire
About the Author
Graham has been writing travel related articles / E-Books
/ for many years ans specializes in South Africa Travel