If you solo RV, please do this


By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Are you a solo RVer? Here’s a “stop and ponder issue” for you.

Every year thousands of RVers descend on the Desert Southwest, looking forward to a great time of exploration and relaxation. And every year, reports a representative of the Quartzsite, Arizona, fire department, a body is found in the desert, usually of someone who wandered off, got disoriented, and never made it back to their RV.

It turns out, many of these folks were solo RVers, and since there wasn’t anybody “home” waiting for them, nobody put out the cry for help when that RVer vanished. Here’s an immediate thought: If you’re planning on setting out to explore, if you’ve made an acquaintance with someone near your rig, it might be an act of good foresight to let them know you’ll be away for a bit and that you’ll check back in on your return. That way, if something does come up and you can’t make it back, they’ll “have your back.”

Paramedics also ask you to go one step further: If you’re a solo RVer, please put emergency contact information on your person and in your rigs. The latter is the so-called “vial of life,” something as simple as a jar inside your refrigerator with your personal information inside. At times government officials finally wind up going inside an apparently abandoned RV to try and get to the bottom of a missing owner. Often they’re able to identify the owner from vehicle registration information, but just who to contact may not be clear. In one instance the police found a cell phone in an “abandoned” rig and kept it charged up and at the station until a concerned friend called to find out why they hadn’t heard from their loved one.

A few steps in advance could save a lot of heartache – and maybe even your life.

##FT11-17 ##RVDT1257

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1 year ago

The Coast Guard advises boaters never to boat alone. The same advice applies to hikers of any age. Always have someone along should you become ill or have a mishap. Another problem for RVers is that they often have pets left in the RV. Last year in California a hiker missing for several weeks was found dead. His car was located nearby with his beloved dog inside who had died from lack of food and water. If you travel solo you should check in with a family member every few days. Someone who will alert authorities if you fail to make contact. You can also buy a personal gps emergency beacon.

1 year ago

Very good advice for solo campers. You can set certain contacts in your phone as ICE (In Case of Emergency). I don’t know if Emergency Personnel looks at that, but it is better than nothing. Kind of useless if you keep your cell locked though.

1 year ago

And remember water! Take plenty with you, no matter what. As much as you can carry.
So many die out in the desert – even in winter – because they don’t have water with them. It’s nearly impossible to find a natural water source. In fact, old-timers called those water sources they saw “MIRAGES”…. they’re not really there.

I’ll never forget the first summer I lived in Las Vegas, I nearly had a heat stroke, because I didn’t yet understand the power of what was happening. My husband (thank God!) did notice, and sent me inside where he helped me get into a cool shower. I have no medical confirmation, but that may have well saved my life.

Also that first summer, we read in the local paper of 2 teenagers – both of whom had grown up here! – who died in the desert when their pickup became stuck in soft sandy soil. They could see Boulder City from where they were so they tried to hike it. They both collapsed and died within sight of civilization they couldn’t reach. It was said that had they just crawled underneath their truck and stayed there in the shade the vehicle provided, they likely would have hiked to town after dark just fine.

Bottom line is do not underestimate the power of the sun, whether the temperature is above 100 or not. The air is extremely dry here – generally our humidity is under 10% – and that dries out your body FAST, and you may not realize it.

One early symptom of dehydration is headache. If you’re in the sun for very long, and start getting headachy, drink some water immediately.

Take care out there. We love our desert dwellers and visitors and we don’t want to lose ANYONE.

Mark Demianew
1 year ago

ALWAYS carrying your fully charged cell phone with location setting ON when you leave your RV is great advice but service can be weak or non-existent in the desert so letting someone know you are going for a hike is the #1 thing you can do to protect yourself.
As for the claim that Joshua Tree is in “predator alley” most of the unfortunates that I have read about, and it is a very rare occurrence at any rate, were somehow involved with criminals and disposed of where people are few and far between. The same can be said of the entire desert Southwest – I live in southern Nevada and bodies are occasionally found in the wild and most were associated with criminal activities.
Bottom line, far more bad people are in the cities than out in the wild so regular folk can usually feel quite safe in the desert unless they go hiking ill-prepared for an emergency.

Scott Morris
1 year ago

We retired in California and head out full time rv,ing. We domiciled in Virginia, another story. But, a BIG warning! In California between Hesperia and Needles, especially in the Joshua Tree Forest area, it is called predator alley. Every year body’s are found out their , occasionally someone from a rv. Always let family know if you are camping in that area, keep your cell phone on your person when hiking and always on to allow GPS locating, and it’s even worth contacting the area sheriff and ranger to let them know your location and for how long. He safe in California! It’s no longer the paradise it used to be.

1 year ago
Reply to  Scott Morris

Good information. The JT area experiences extreme heat and very cold conditions throughout the year. If you plan to explore this area come prepared for self sufficiency.
A large percentage of people who go missing out there are on solo hikes which is not recommended.

1 year ago
Reply to  Scott Morris

Scott, Are you saying that camping solo at JT is unsafe or hiking solo is unsafe? Or both? I travel solo in my MH and do it as safely as I can. JT is on my list of national parks I want to visit but if this is an area that predators lurk, I would scratch it off the list.

1 year ago
Reply to  cee

Cee, I can’t confirm or deny Scott’s assertion about “predator alley”, but desert is desert. If you boondock alone, yes you’d be more susceptible, and easy to spot. But there are scattered campgrounds where you could camp and be safer in numbers. In the Mohave National Preserve, though, they’re generally first come-first serve. Just please don’t hike alone….without taking other precautions as mentioned here already. (See my post above about water.)

From a friend, also known as C.

Lee Ensminger
4 years ago

What about carrying a PLB like a SPOT device? It’s satellite based, and should work anywhere.

1 year ago
Reply to  Lee Ensminger

Much more useful would be a mirror or old CD, or a flashlight, to signal passing aircraft, even at cruising altitude. They’ll contact authorities about it. Others in the area may see it and be closer to either cell service or people who can contact authorities about it.

The desert is dangerous in many ways. Don’t underestimate it, or overestimate devices which may not function at all in the desert.

There aren’t many cell towers in the sagebrush, creosotes and rocks. Or Joshua Trees.