If you’ve been planning your dream RV trip, you’re probably thinking about how you’re going to stay safe. Driving an RV for the first time can be intimidating, but you’re determined to make your dream trip come true, so you’re willing to do whatever it takes to stay safe.
RV camping is a fun experience for the whole family, but you don’t want your RV camping trip interrupted because of preventable accidents. This RV safety overview will review all the important tips and tricks for keeping everyone safe, both on the road and at your campsite.
RV Safety Factors and You
RV safety falls into two categories: road safety and campground safety. If you’re buying or renting an RV, you’re going to have to get it to your campground, and we’re here to make sure you get it there as safely as possible.
Driving an RV isn’t too different from driving a car—it’s just bigger. However, if you’re not accustomed to driving a larger vehicle, you may be feeling a little anxious. We’ll walk you through how to safely care for your vehicle on the road so you can get to your campsite in one piece.
RV Safety on the Road
Avoid an accident and potentially life-threatening situation by using common sense RV safety on the road. Follow posted road rules and drive the speed limit. Don’t drive in the left lane unless you’re passing someone.
Knowing the dimensions of your RV is essential for staying safe on the road, especially the height. You don’t want to try to drive under a bridge that’s too low to the ground.
You should also stop at a weigh station to check the weight of your RV so you make sure to avoid driving over a bridge that cannot support your RV’s weight.
Safe RV travel is best done in daylight, especially if you’re not familiar with the route you’re taking. Daylight driving makes reading signs easier, so you will avoid getting lost or taking the wrong turns. It’s also easier to see the cars on the road, which can be a challenge in larger vehicles like RVs.
Invest in a backup camera if your RV did not come with one so that you can see who or what is behind you at all times.
RV safety on the road takes a lot of patience. If you truly do not feel comfortable driving your RV, then luckily you don’t have to.
The safest step to take is to find someone who has experience driving RVs, or you can have a professional RV delivery company deliver your motor home to your campsite.
Check your tire pressures before driving your RV on a long trip to help avoid a flat tire and unsuspecting RV breakdown. Get to know your engine and whether your RV runs on gasoline or diesel because you want to make sure you’re fueling your RV correctly.
It’s recommended to check your coolant and oil levels at least weekly. Like a car, your RV should be serviced frequently to protect your investment and keep you safe on the road. Change your oil every six months with or without travel.
Don’t forget to disconnect hoses and electrical wiring before traveling. Unplug all electronics and secure loose furniture. Also, remember to retract slides and awnings. Regular RV maintenance tips you need to remember to ensure RV safety on the road:
- Make sure your headlights and brake lights are operational
- Clear your roof of debris
- Test your RV’s battery regularly
Keeping on top of general RV maintenance will help make your road trip a breeze. Download an RV maintenance app such as RV LIFE Maintenance to help keep you on top of all that needs to be serviced.
Ensure your RV is not only equipped with the following safety features but also test that these RV safety features are operational.
Carbon Monoxide Detector
Carbon monoxide is a silent killing gas because it has no odor. A carbon monoxide detector is the only way to know if your vehicle leaks. Items that emit carbon monoxide include generators and any appliance that is gas heated.
Fire Alarm and Fire Extinguisher
Fire alarms need to be replaced every ten years at least. If you bought an older used RV, check the age of the alarm. Fire alarms should have a label with the year they were manufactured. If you can’t find it, it’s old and needs to be replaced.
Verify the extinguisher is visible, unobstructed, and in its correct location, then examine for signs of corrosion. Check that the gauge is still set to green. Note that if the extinguisher has been used for any reason, you need to replace it.
Trailer Brake Controller
If you’re going to be towing anything with your RV, you need a trailer brake controller for safe RV travel. This is an electronic brake that activates and controls the electric brakes of a controller. A trailer brake controller is required for towing more than 3000 pounds in most states.
An LP detector uses sensors to measure the amount of propane gas in the area around it. The alarm will set off when it reaches an unsafe level and helps protect your RV from an explosion and enhances RV safety tremendously.
A GasStop is an emergency shut-off for propane gas systems. In the event of a gas leak, the GasStop will automatically shut off the flow of gas. You should also be familiar with your shutoff valves are located to stop the flow of gas.
Safe RV Travel with Kids
RV seat belt laws vary by state. Become familiar with the seatbelt laws for all states you will be driving through for safe RV travel. For example, Iowa requires that all occupants wear a seatbelt, but Minnesota only requires that front-seat occupants and children four to ten wear seatbelts.
You might be tempted to let your twelve-year-old take off her seatbelt when you cross state lines, but it’s always safest for everyone to wear their seatbelts at all times. Younger children should sit in a booster seat or car seat.
It’s important to make sure your RV fits the specifications for your car seat type. How your RV seats are positioned will determine what type of seats will fit in them.
You’re probably wondering where is the best spot to put your child’s car seat in your RV. This varies by RV, but generally, it’s in the dinette or jump seats. Some RVs, especially Class C RVs, feature theater seating, which is similar to the seating you will find in a car.
Note that most states don’t have car seat laws specific to RVs; however, all states have car seat laws, and RVs are no exception to that law.
Know the Weather at Your Campsite
Check the weather before you head to your campsite, but also check it regularly on the way as conditions can change quickly and forecasts are not always accurate. Use the Weather Channel app for Android or iOS
You could also invest in an Ultrasonic Smart Weather Station for staying up-to-date on the latest weather conditions at all times.
Get to Know Your Campsite Location
You might be tempted to drive into town and pick the first campsite you find on the map with space availability. It’s a better idea to research where you want to camp and reserve a campsite if possible. Some campgrounds do not allow reservations, so you may need to have a backup choice or two.
Find out if the campground is staffed or unstaffed. A staffed campground provides an extra layer of safety!
Don’t drink the water without checking if the water is safe to drink first.
The same goes for swimming. Look for posted alerts about water quality at beaches and don’t swim if the signs say not to swim. You could get a serious illness or infection if you swim in contaminated water, so it’s not worth the risk.
Even if there are no posted alerts about the water, you want to examine it before swimming. If the water appears cloudy, dirty, or has algae then don’t swim.
If you’re not a strong swimmer, wear a life jacket when in the water. Even if you are a strong swimmer, be careful when diving in the water. Lake and river water depth can change rapidly, so never dive in an area you’re not familiar with or isn’t a designated diving area.
RV Campsite Safety With Kids and Pets
Avoid posting your location on a social media site while you’re there. Posting your location online, especially publicly, can attract dangerous attention, especially if you have little ones with you.
It only takes a moment for someone with ill intent to recognize where you are, even if the location isn’t mentioned, so be careful when posting photos too.
Never leave kids and pets unattended. Pets should always be on a leash. Many parks have a six-foot leash rule.
Everyone in the family should be up-to-date on their shots. Kids should have their most recent tetanus shots, and pets should be up-to-date on their rabies shots. Always bring your pets’ and kids’ immunization records with you in the event of an accident.
Practice RV Safety Every Trip!
Now you’re up to speed on RV safety to practice every trip so you can have more fun and worry less! Next, you should read about how to keep mice out of an RV to keep the pests at bay.
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
Nicole Kinkade grew up in campgrounds in the Midwest with her family in their RV and has many fond memories around the campfire. She and her husband took many tent camping trips at the beginning of their relationship, and she looks forward to sharing the outdoors with her young son as he gets older.
She loves discovering new camping techniques and sharing them with the world. With a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Media Communication, she is a passionate writer who loves sharing her knowledge online.
Nicole can be reached at email@example.com