Approximately 3,700 RV fires were reported to fire departments in the US between 2016 to 2018. These fire incidents resulted in great loss with as many as 15 deaths and over 100 injuries. The economic loss was estimated at almost $60 million.
From these statistics, it’s evident that RV vehicles are prone to fire accidents. Therefore, fire safety is an essential aspect every conscientious RVer should consider when going on an RV vacation or a family getaway.
Before giving you some tips to make your RV fire-safe, let’s examine some of the possible causes of RV fires.
What causes RV fires?
To keep your RV fire-secured, you must start by examining and understanding the possible causes of fire.
A motorhome can catch fire while stationary or moving. Some possible causes include;
- Electrical shorts and faulty wiring
- Engine compartments
- Kitchen appliances such as heaters
- Engine fuel lines
How to keep your RV fire-secured
Now that you understand the possible cause of RV fires, what are some measures you can use to minimize the fire risks?
1. Keep the electrical system secure
Your RV’s electrical system should always be checked and maintained to mitigate fire risks. Check the wiring to see if the connections are secure.
Additionally, do not overload outlets with too many appliances. For instance, turn off the sound system or TV while vacuuming. The outlets can only support a limited amount of electricity.
If you exceed the rated load for the circuit wiring, the circuit breaker will trip, shutting off power to the entire circuit. If there’s no circuit breaker, the overload will melt the wire insulation, causing a fire due to overheating. Perform random ‘touch’ tests to see if the circuits are overheating.
Alternatively, install additional circuits for high-demanding devices and appliances like the refrigerator.
Consider buying an RV surge protector to shut off power immediately when a power surge occurs.
Habitually, check for loose electrical connections and have an experienced technician deal with any faults. Do these only when the battery power is off.
Most RVers use extension cords, not knowing the dangers that they pose. Running extension cords from your RV can easily cause a fire. For instance, if the cables are left outside during the rains, they can get submerged in water, which could cause trouble.
If you must use an extension cord, make sure they are heavy duty and do not overload the circuits.
If you’re using a generator to power up your electrical appliances in the RV, make sure it is far away from the vehicle. If used close to the RV, the gasoline fumes from the generator can reach an ignition source, causing a fire. The generator exhaust should face away from the RV and the camping area.
2. Maintain the wheel bearings and tires
When your RV is moving, the tires can get hot as a result of friction. If you continue driving, the tires can overheat to the point of catching fire.
Thus, before hitting the road with your RV, make sure the tires and wheel bearings are in good condition and are properly inflated.
It’s essential to invest in an infrared thermometer to help you check the temperatures of the RV tires. According to experts, a standard RV tire should run approximately 158 degrees, but you can go slightly above this figure. However, if you find yourself going beyond 167, it might be time to stop, give your tires a break and time to cool down.
Additionally, look for any unusual small cracks or wear patterns on the sidewalls of your RV tires.
3. Install smoke alarms
You must have several smoke alarms installed in your RV, depending on the size of the motorhome. A single smoke alarm is enough for a less than 21 feet RV.
It’s best to install smoke alarms on the ceiling because hot smoke rises before spreading. Also, make sure to install one in or near the kitchen.
Smoke alarms will give you and other occupants enough time to get out of an RV during a fire outbreak.
Make sure the smoke alarms are working perfectly. Use the test button at least once a month to check that the smoke alarms are still operational. If the alarms are battery-powered, check and replace the batteries periodically.
Additionally, make sure everyone in the RV understands the sound of the smoke signal and the appropriate actions to take in case it sounds. Don’t assume that everyone understands what the alarm sounds mean, especially your young ones.
4. Keep the campfire away from the RV
If you’re planning to camp for a night or two, you’ll definitely light up a campfire, especially during the night.
Campfires provide warmth, light, and sometimes heat for cooking.
However, you should keep the campfires as far away from your RV as possible to reduce fire risk. Any campsite fire sources like lanterns and tiki torches must be at least 25 feet away from your RV or any other flammable materials like awnings.
5. Have enough fire extinguishers
Fire extinguishers are essential for every RV, and you shouldn’t lack one, especially while on a family getaway. It’s best to understand the various types of fire extinguishers before picking one for your RV.
Place the fire extinguishers at strategic places within the RV, for instance, in the kitchen, bedroom, and outside the recreation vehicle. The fire extinguishers should have the right amount of pressure. If you’ve used it once, make sure it is recharged or replaced.
Inspect the fire extinguishers to ensure they are up to date. Read the instructions that came with them to ensure you’re doing the right thing.
Furthermore, make sure you and your whole family know where the fire extinguishers are and how to use them. There will be no time for tutorials in the event of an RV fire.
6. Have an escape plan
Even after all the measures to prevent RV fires, a fire might still occur. And since sometimes you can’t fight a fire, you don’t want the hazard to catch you unprepared. Therefore, have an escape plan.
First, make sure your RV has at least two escape routes/doors. You don’t want a scenario where ten of you will scramble and rush towards a single exit door. Ensure the emergency doors and windows can easily open, and everyone on board understands how to do it effortlessly.
Also, you need to understand that not everyone might be able to get out of the RV after a fire outbreak. Think of the kids, the physically challenged, and the elderly, and figure out a perfect plan for their escape.
And if possible, practice this routinely before going on a family vacation in your RV so that everyone understands what to do in case of a fire.
The last thing you want to think about when planning for the next family getaway is the possibility of a fire. However, a little planning and preparedness can go a long way in ensuring your family has a safe and trouble-free family getaway.
Many RV fires can be prevented or minimized with measures such as having smoke signals, having fire extinguishers, and ensuring the electrical systems are secure.
With these and many other RV fire-prevention mechanisms, you’ll be a step ahead of preventing RV fires and other car accidents.
About the author
Steve Harris is a Freelance writer who loves cars, playing basketball, and business. He works closely with aielloharris.com as a content specialist helping them build their online presence through friendly, engaging, and shareable web content. When not hunched over his computer thinking loudly, you can find him playing pop music with his band, reading horror novels, or traveling.