The last thing you want is to lose your RV to an easily preventable fire. Fortunately, there are plenty of precautions you can take to minimize this risk and avoid danger. Here are a few steps you should take to prevent RV fires.
1. Consider Your Location
Parking amidst underbrush, under trees, or in tall grasses can increase your chances of an RV fire. All it takes is for dry foliage to make contact with a hot muffler or sparks from nearby cooking to set off a devastating blaze.
When choosing an area to park for the day, check the area for any potentially flammable undergrowth. Avoid parking against trees and shrubs—both could pose flammability hazards.
Another thing to consider is your access to help. If you have any neighbors nearby, get to know them in case you need help in an emergency. Some RV camps have call boxes that can also be used in an emergency.
2. Bring the Right Fire Extinguisher
Fire extinguishers save lives, but having the right one is crucial for stopping fires before they morph into major blazes. Dry chemical fire extinguishers are highly effective for dealing with Class A (combustible wood, paper, and fabric), Class B (flammable liquids and gases), and Class C (electrical) fires. Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers are another option for tackling Class B and C fires.
In addition to keeping a traditional fire extinguisher on board, consider having an automatic extinguisher installed in your RV. An automatic extinguisher system can contain and extinguish fires quickly, limiting the potential destruction a blaze can wreak on your RV. Most automatic systems use "clean agent" gases.
3. Know Where the Shut-Offs Are
Before setting off on any journey, make an effort to memorize where all of your electrical breakers and gas shut-off valves are located. You may need to quickly shut off your propane and electricity supply to keep fires contained or prevent them from happening. All shut-offs should be clearly marked for quick and easy reach in the event of an emergency.
4. Check Your Alarms
Fire and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are a must-have for any RV. Although most experts recommend checking both on a monthly basis, you'll want to check them before you start any road trip. Whenever the alarms need new batteries, avoid reusing old batteries. Fresh, new batteries are essential for keeping your alarms in good shape.
5. Store Combustibles Properly
The average RV is filled with a variety of potentially combustible goods, from batteries to flammable cooking gases. Keeping these items properly stored will help minimize fire risks. All flammable items should be kept away from stoves and other sources of heat. Using the proper containers for flammable liquids and gases is also an absolute must for safety.
Be careful when working on your RV, as leaving greasy rags around can also increase your risks of a fire. Instead of holding on to your soiled rags, dispose of them at the first opportunity.
6. Keep Up With Mechanical Maintenance
Skipping critical maintenance items can prove deadly under the right circumstances. A howling wheel bearing can easily catch fire and take the rest of your RV travel trailer with it. Faulty heaters and damaged electrical wiring can also make sparks and put your RV at risk of catching fire. Braking systems can also overheat, leading to an increased risk of fire.
Needless to say, keeping up with your RV's maintenance is essential for avoiding these and other risks. Conduct a pre-trip inspection before leaving for any trip and perform quarterly maintenance on your RV at the start of each season. Make a checklist of your RV's essential systems and make sure each one is in good condition.