“Are RV’s dangerous to own and operate?” After giving this question some thought I realized that this one short question covered a very large spectrum. There is no quick or easy response to this question. In most cases it’s not the RV that is dangerous, but the individual that is operating the RV that is dangerous. Some examples of unsafe acts that I have witnessed are carrying a full spare LP gas bottle inside the RV, sleeping in the RV with the generator running and never weighing the RV or checking the inflation pressure in the tires.
When you begin your search for an RV, the first thing to verify is that the RV manufacturer is a member of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). If they are, the RV will have an oval shaped RVIA seal displayed on the exterior, usually by the entrance door. This seal means that the RV manufacturer is in compliance with more than 500 safety requirements regarding electrical, plumbing, heating, and fire and life safety. These safety requirements are established under the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A119.2 Standard for Recreation Vehicles. This should put to rest any concerns you may have about the RV itself being safe when it is manufactured.
The next step is to educate yourself on the systems of an RV and what is required to operate the RV safely and properly. If you’re going to be towing a three or four ton travel trailer, or driving a six ton plus motor home you need to understand the importance of proper hitch work, weights and driving techniques. I also explained that anytime you are dealing with petroleum products like LP gas and gasoline generators there is cause for concern, but if handled properly there is nothing to worry about. A good place to start is with our RV video and DVD library.
In no particular order, I offer the following advice concerning RV safety:
•Take care of your RV’s tires and they will take care of you. When you’re not using your RV keep the tires covered to protect them from the damaging affects of ozone in the air and UV rays from the sun. Invest in a quality inflation pressure gauge and check the tire pressure in all tires every time you use the RV. Check and adjust the pressure when the tires are cold, before you move it. Maintain the pressure recommended by the manufacturer. Consult the owner’s manual for proper tire inflation and never exceed the maximum pressure located on the tire sidewalls.
•Weigh your RV and tow vehicle. The only way to know if the weight is properly distributed and that you are within the allowable weight ratings for the RV and tow vehicle is to have them weighed. Look for certified platform scales in your yellow pages under moving companies or truck stops. When you weigh your RV and tow vehicle have them fully loaded for travel to include passengers, cargo, fuel, personal belongings, and full fresh water and propane tanks. Verify that you do not exceed any manufacturer weight ratings such as, the Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings (GVWR), Gross Combined Weight Ratings (GCWR), and Gross Axle Weight Ratings (GAWR). NEVER exceed any manufacturer weight ratings. It is quite possible to be within the weight ratings, but still exceed a tire rating. This is why you must weigh each axle end separately to insure that the load is within the capacity of the axles, wheels and tires and to see if the load is properly distributed.
•Have the LP gas system inspected every spring before using the RV. Take your RV to a qualified service center and let them check the LP gas system for proper appliance operating pressure and to check the system for leaks. Familiarize yourself with the odorant added to LP gas to assist you in detecting a leak, and what to do if there is a gas leak.
If you smell LP gas or the leak detector alarm goes off:
1) Extinguish any open flames and pilot lights. 2) Do not touch electrical switches. 3) Shut off the gas supply at the tank valve(s) or gas supply connection. 4) Open the doors and windows and leave the area until the odor clears. 5) Have the LP gas system checked and repaired by a qualified technician before using the system again.
It is not recommended that you travel with the LP gas turned on. If you do have the gas on while traveling turn off each individual pilot light, appliance, and the main gas supply before refueling.
•The onboard generator makes your RV fully self-contained. It allows you access to 120 volts when there is no shore power available, but keep in mind that carbon monoxide is deadly! NEVER sleep in the RV with the generator running! Before you start and use the generator inspect the exhaust system. Do not use it if the exhaust system is damaged. Test the carbon monoxide detector every time you use the RV. Know what the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are:
1) Dizziness 2) Vomiting 3) Nausea 4) Muscular twitching 5) Intense headache 6) Throbbing in the temples 7) Weakness and sleepiness 8) Inability to think coherently
If you or anyone else experiences any of these symptoms get to fresh air immediately. If the symptoms persist seek medical attention. Shut the generator down and do not operate it until it has been inspected and repaired by a professional.
In my opinion, these are some very real concerns that all RVers need to be aware of. I also want to mention that this is a very short list. There are many other safety issues involved in owning and operating an RV, but by practicing common sense, and through education, RV ownership is not only safe, it’s lots of fun.
Happy Camping, Mark
Copyright 2006 by Mark J. Polk owner of RV Education 101
RV Expert Mark Polk, seen on TV, is the producer & host of America’s most highly regarded series of DVD’s, videos, books, and e-books. www.rveducation101.com/
Mark Polk is a retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Three, specializing in wheeled and track vehicle fleet maintenance operations. In addition to owning and operating RV Education 101, (based in North Carolina) since 1999, Polk also has a very extensive RV background working in RV service, sales and management. Polk has a degree in Industrial Management Technology and his 30 plus years of experience in maintenance includes working as an RV technician, a wheeled vehicle and power generation mechanic, an automotive maintenance technician, Battalion and Brigade level Maintenance Officer, an RV sales manager and also in the RV financing department as the Finance & Insurance manager. www.rveducation101.com/
Those of us who live in the States are lucky. We have one of the best National Park systems in the world. We also have fast, efficient Interstates that will take you close enough to most of them that you don’t have to worry about off-roading in your RV!
But what makes those parks so great is really the breathtaking natural beauty that is preserved there. Every place in the world has its unique sights to see, but you just can’t beat standing on the south rim of the Grand Canyon watching the sun go down.
Here is a brief introduction to 3 of America’s oldest and still best national parks, Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Great Smoky Mountains.
Yellowstone National Park – Southern Montana and Northern Wyoming
Yellowstone is the first, and many consider the greatest National Park in the United States. It’s a wonderland of spouting geysers, unique rock formations and other leftover evidence of a massive volcanic explosion over 600,000 years ago.
Don’t worry, it’s all cooled off now. At Yellowstone, you can see the world’s most famous geyser, Old Faithful. Early settlers thought it was a noxious spew from hell itself, but nowadays we know it’s just a geothermal process, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting.
Yellowstone has a reputation for being crowded, and it’s true that it’s a popular destination. If you really want to see the park, park your motor home and hike off the beaten path. Yellowstone has lots of great hiking trails, more than enough for everybody to enjoy without crowding each other. There are plenty of day hikes with spectacular views.
Yellowstone has at least 12 different campgrounds, and they’re all first come, first served. Before you go, you’ll want to call ahead and see about fire restrictions. If you’re with the family and you want to stick to some luxurious digs, there are KOA’s and other commercial campgrounds just outside the park with more modern conveniences where you can park your motor home or RV.
Yosemite National Park- Eastern California
Yosemite is another one of the oldest national parks in the United States. The wilderness of Yosemite represents all kinds of terrain, including meadows, valleys, mountains and great forests, and it’s not too far from San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Probably the most amazing thing about Yosemite is the waterfalls. It has more waterfalls than any other single place on earth. Steep cliffs of granite abound, and from certain points in the valley you can see seven or eight big ones at once. It may be tempting, but don’t try swimming in the pools, because the force of the water can knock you senseless.
Yosemite also boasts one of the biggest forests of sequoias in the world. These ancient trees stand tall, their tips pushing way up into the sky, like the California Redwoods.
There are 13 campgrounds in Yosemite National Park, and some of them accept camping cars, trailers, motor homes and RV’s. If you plan on heading to Yosemite, it’s best to call ahead and make a reservation. In the summer months, the campgrounds fill up quick.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park – The North Carolina and Tennessee Border
If you like the outdoors, Great Smoky has it all. There are more hiking trails than probably any other area in the US, as well as great fishing and camping. Compared to the parks out west, you’ll see lots more wildlife and plants. Also unlike the west, the weather is mild and there’s plenty of humidity to keep you from dehydrating.
Another reason to head for the Smokies is to experience real, authentic Appalachian mountain culture. There’s mountain music, storytellers, and all kinds of family fun.
Great Smoky is also a great place for RV drivers, because there are lots of auto tours. The park boasts roads where you can see great views, old historic buildings and vast forests as far as the eye can see.
Of course, this is just a basic introduction. You have to see these parks to believe them. These are definitely three places you want to hit at least sometime in your life.
See the States coast to coast in your home on wheels. Your family motor home lets you travel in style. Visit Bankston Motor Homes, http://www.bankstonmotorhomes.com/, to search for your next motor home or come by and visit with us at any of our five locations.
Planning a summer road trip this year? Do movies like RV and Family Vacation not scare you from the adventures that could await you on your cross country trek? Before you go, make sure you check off these top 23 travel tips.
Look at maps and plan your route. There are many great online maps that do a HYBRID map view showing real streets and routes with satellite images. Knowing the location, and how it looks, by viewing it from space is both cool and very helpful, so you won’t get lost.
Research the roads you’ll take. You’ll especially want to know if you’ll be traveling through areas of major road construction. The maps mentioned above are a little dated. Some new roads and maps will not have current, real-time data, bring physical maps, like ones you could buy from AAA along.
Make estimates of travel times along the route, so you’ll have an idea when you’ll be at certain points on your trip. This will help you to plan rest and meal stops. It will also help you plan to avoid traveling through a major city or area of road construction during rush hour.
Get the car checked, especially the filters, belts, fluid levels and have the oil changed. Don’t wait until the last minute, it may take time to get an appointment and parts may need to be ordered. You also want some time to drive around town and make sure that whatever they fixed stays fixed. If you vehicle is ‘mission critical’ and could die at any moment, DON’T take it with you, borrow a friends car instead.
Check the condition of your wiper blades, both front and back windows.
Check the operation of your turn signals, brake lights as well as the high and low beams. Bring some extra fuses along.
Examine the tread on your tires. Consider mountain driving in winter conditions on snowy peaks. Make sure you have chains or 4×4 traction for icey roads, out of season. Or try a different route.
Make sure your car is prepared for the weather it will encounter on your trip. You might need more antifreeze or need to recharged air-conditioning when you go through the desert.
Today, many cars have fancy wheels instead of hubcaps. These wheels usually have a lock to prevent them from being stolen. If you have a car with wheel locks, make sure you know where the key is stored (often with the jack). Otherwise, a flat tire will become a major problem since you won’t be able to get the wheel off the car.
Get your car cleaned. You’ll feel better in a clean car.
Pack an emergency kit in your car. Include motion sickness medication if anyone in your group suffers from it. Remove any items from the car that you won’t need on your trip. Bring some blankets.
Prepare some on road entertainment for your trip. Include games and CDs of music and/or audio books. Portable DVD players are really inexpensive and help pass the time in dead spots where where is nothing new to see.
Check your plates, registration and insurance information to make sure they are all valid. Be sure to place your insurance company’s emergency contact number in your car.
Check with all the drivers in your party to make sure their driver’s licenses haven’t expired.
Check your insurance for expiration dates and coverage for your automobile.
Arrange for someone to start your other car, if you leave one home, during very cold or very hot weather.
Fill the car with gas before you pack the car so all the fumes won’t bother your passengers. Check the fluid levels and tire pressure, your tire pressure will affect the ride and gas mileage you get on your trip.
Pack the car inside the garage, with the door down, so people driving by won’t find out you’re leaving.
Overall, enjoy the road trip. It’s not going to be as crazy as Clark W Grizwold’s family vacation experiences, and if it is, make sure you video it and put it up on You Tube!
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This long line of islands, stretching south of Miami like an alligator’s tail, has long captivated visitors. And, just as you’d be careful while hiking through gator territory, exploring the Keys today demands a certain amount of caution. No, there are no real dangers (although the crass consumerism comes close), but there are real highs and real lows. And because the highs are so great – stunning tropical fish, unparalleled views of the sea, scrumptious dining adventures – it’s best to not waste any time with the lows of T-shirt shopping or cheesy-hotel stays.
The 45-island chain, held together by a 1130-mile roadway, has a pace of life that becomes more mellow and island-like the further you get from Miami. Surroundings also turn more beautiful as you travel south, and your experience will peak in all ways as soon as you settle into the southernmost point in the lineup, Key West. But don’t make the mistake of flying by all that rest spots in between these points.
While much of the HWY 1 (the only road that takes you through) is lined with fortresses of strip malls that block any views of the the gleaming shores, it’s worth turning off the highway, breaking through the barrier and enjoying what lies in wait,. Key Largo’s John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Grassy Key’s Dolphin Research Center, Marathon’s kayaking tours and the amazing Cuban food tucked away in Big Pine Key are just a few of the pleasures.
Islamorada (eye-luh-murr-ah-da) is actually a collection of smaller islands with equally fanciful names – Plantation, Upper and Lower Matcumbe, Lignumvitae. It’s one of the best driving stretches because you can actually see water on both sides for much of the way. There are several placid, easily accessible little ocean-beach nooks providing scenic rest stops. Islamorada is known for fishing and as a result has some of the best seafood dining in the Keys.