The most important thing you can do with regard to rv safety is to set aside a good chunk of time, sit down with your rv owner's manual, and get to know your RV. Having a handle on the following information will save you from a lot of anxiety and problems.
Memorize Your Vital Statistics
For the first several months, I ducked and held my breath every time I drove under a bridge or overpass. Know your motor home’s height – mine is 12’ 2”, and it’s 8’ 6” wide - and that doesn't include those big expensive side mirrors!
Equally important is to know the various RV weight ratings:
• GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight): This is the total weight of a
fully equipped and loaded RV with passengers, gas, oil, water, and
baggage. It must not be greater than the vehicle’s GVWR.
• GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating): The amount of total loaded weight the vehicle can support, determined by the manufacturer. This weight must not be exceeded.
• Dry Weight: The weight of the motor home without fluids (gas, oil & water) added.
• UVW (Unloaded Vehicle Weight): The weight with full fuel, water, propane, driver, and passengers.
• CCC (Cargo Carrying Capacity): The maximum allowable weight of all people, pets, belongings, food, tools, etc., that you carry in your motorhome. This is the GVWR minus the UVW.
• GAWR (Gross Axle Weigh Rating): The maximum permissible weight that can be carried by an axle with weight evenly distributed throughout the vehicle.
• GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating): The maximum allowable loaded weight of the motorhome with towables.
IMPORTANT: Go to a truck weighing station and weigh your fully loaded rig, including your towed vehicle, to make sure you aren’t exceeding the limits. It’s a good idea to do this every year or so, as we all tend to add weight one way or the other as time goes on.
RV Education 101 is a source of excellent e-books on just about anything you could think of related to RVing. This particular one is on RV Care & Maintenance which is a great place to start, but there are several others specific to rv batteries; the gas, water and electrical systems; buying an rv; winterizing your rv, etc.
one of the biggest causes of total loss of a motorhome is an RV fire.
Even worse than the possible financial loss, a fire in your RV can mean
injury or death. It is important to educate yourself about possible
hazards and, most important, know what to do and how to escape in case
of a fire.
To start with, you should have a battery operated smoke detector in your rig, as well as carbon monoxide and LPG gas detectors; be sure they are approved for use in motorhomes and check them on a regular basis to make sure they are working.
A handy box of baking soda near your stove is the best bet for killing a grease fire, but don't forget the fire extinguishers - a must for rv safety. There should be three of them: one near the kitchen, another in the bedroom and a third in an easily accessible location on the outside of the rig. Note: the exterior storage compartment that holds your propane tank is not lockable, so that's a good place to put it.
Fire extinguishers are classified as "A" (for fires in wood, paper, fabrics, etc. which are the most common type of RV fires), and "BC" for flammable liquids and electrical fires - the BC type should go in the outside storage compartment.
Know your escape routes. The door near the front of the motor home is an obvious one; find the other one. Mine was typical - a window in the master bedroom that had a red locking handle at the bottom. Once you release that handle, the window swings out and you have a large opening to use as an exit. Practice using it - you don't want to be learning when the fire is burning! Since the window is generally about 8' from the ground, think about getting one of those flexible escape ladders that will hang over the sill. It will fold or roll up into a small package - keep it next to the bed.
It is advisable to turn the propane off at the tank when you're driving; if you're in an accident or there is a fire, propane would add to the danger. Your refrigerator will generally keep food cold or frozen for up to eight hours without running. Just don't forget to turn the propane back on when you reach your destination!
For information on rv safety, maintenance and operation of
systems, safe driving and a host of other subjects related to you and
your RV, go to the RV Safety and Education Foundation website. If at all possible, plan to attend one of their conferences.
If you Google "rv safety workshops" online, you'll find many workshops available around the country; they are frequently held at the big rallies.
When I got my RV in North Carolina, I looked around the Raleigh area for any kind of instruction in driving an RV and found nothing.
I was pretty anxious at the thought of driving a 27' motorhome, but believe me, the fear and anxiety levels rise in direct proportion to the size of your RV.
So if you are the new owner of a big RV and would like to reduce your stress level, check out RV Basic Training. Their trainers come to you.
If you can't find a course in your neck of the woods, you'll just have to grit your teeth and learn to drive it yourself. Don't worry, you'll be a pro in no time - if I could learn to be reasonably proficient at driving an rv, anyone can.
“Nothing happens until something moves.” – Albert Einstein
Make sure you have the right insurance coverage for your home on wheels.
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A sunset cruise on the Schooner Margaret Todd, and the big one that got away.