We have all seen images on the web of RVs that caught on-fire. Why did this happen and was there anything the owner could have done to prevent this tragedy? You have also seen RVs on the side of the road with a blowout. Why?
Since we don’t know all the reasons for RV fires and blowout issues with tires, there are things you can do to minimize the risk.
You need to ensure that your detectors (Propane, Smoke and Carbon Dioxide) have not exceeded their life span. Most RV detectors have a lifespan of 5-10 years depending on the detector type. It is easy to find out if they have expired. Just remove the detector and look at the stamped expiration date on the back. If you need to replace a detector for your RV, do not use a detector made for home use (from the big box stores). RV detectors are made to withstand the rigors of road vibrations, etc.
Most RV equipped tires are rated for a max sped of 65mph. Even though your motorhome tires may be rated for a higher speed, if you are towing a vehicle on a tow dolly or a trailer, those tires may have the warning, do not exceed 65mph. I cannot tell you the number of folks we see traveling, towing a 5th wheel or a travel trailer, exceeding that 65mph limit. It is an accident waiting to happen. Weight balance of an RV can affect how tires perform as well. If a towable RV is overloaded it can have an adverse effect on the performance of the RV tires. Every tire has a born-on date, you can visit: http://www.tiresafetygroup.com/ to determine if your tires may have a recall on them.
Almost every RV made has a propane system installed on it. There are some “all electric” RVs which don’t have a propane system but the average RV has a propane system. We use it to run our furnace, to heat our water and to operate our RV refrigerator while traveling down the road. For people that boondock (stay in locations without hook-ups) it is necessary to have a resource like propane.
Is it safe to travel with your propane turned on while traveling?
There are pros and cons to this. If you must travel through a tunnel, all propane tanks must be turned off while in the tunnel. It has been tested that most RV refrigerators will maintain an average cooling temperature for approx. 8 hrs. being turned off. So, the decision is yours if you travel with the propane on or turned off.
FYI – Most RVs made in the last 10 yrs. or so have built in safety features to turn off the propane source in the case of an accident.
Emergency exit windows
Do you know where your safety exits are in your RV? Do you know how to operate those exit windows? Have you taught your kids, grandkids, your guests that might spend the night, how to exit your RV in case of a fire? Most people don’t think of this until it is too late. Some RV safety exit windows are a “one and done”, meaning if you manually open the window or kick it out, it is no longer of use unless it is caught before it hits the ground.
Many RV exit windows are hinged so unless it is damaged while being opened, it can be reattached to use again. Make it a practice to check your detectors for expiration dates, educate those around you how to exit an RV in case of a fire, check your propane systems for leaks and please slow down to arrive safely to your destination!