Tuesday, December 5, 2023


RVer Safety: Protection is a personal matter

By Mike Sherman
Over the past few weeks we have discussed gun safety, types of weapons and to arm or not to arm. Hopefully everyone has learned a few things or had your own conclusions reinforced.

All of the comments were thoughtful and informative. The goal was to start a dialog and you responded well, keeping the conversation civil and enlightening, in my humble opinion. For those of you trying to decide if you should carry a weapon in your RV, I’m confident you have gained some insight from a well-informed readership.

I especially appreciate all the positive input from retired law enforcement and military personnel. Having a wealth of personal knowledge and experience is a plus for anyone looking for answers. Your contributions are appreciated, and I’m sure helped those trying to make decisions.

Decisions regarding your protection are personal, and one should use caution when sharing your situation. Whether you carry or not, what your choice of weapon is, where you store it or if you carry it, etc., is probably best kept to yourself. If you elect not to arm yourself, it is best to keep that a secret also. Your decisions should be kept personal and private. Your friendly neighbors sitting around a campfire don’t really need to know your status. Keep ’em guessing.

Regardless of whether or not you are armed, I recommend you consider the supplemental items and actions listed below that most likely will enhance your safety:

1. Keep a powerful flashlight handy – You need to be able to light up the person knocking at your door in the middle of the night. If you can’t see them, ask them to step over to a window.

2. Consider an air horn in a canister – Three short blasts, then three long blasts, then three short blasts (repeat the sequence several times) will send out a universal SOS signal to everyone nearby, hopefully prompting a response from a friendly neighbor who happens to be carrying their own flashlight, and maybe a gun if the circumstances warrant.

3. Consider a CB radio – If you have no cell service, a CB radio could be a lifesaver in any type of emergency.

4. Use a lawn rake – I see you scratching your head. Let me explain. I like to know if anyone has been around my rig. If I’m parked on dirt, sand, etc., I like to run my lawn rake around the rig when I leave for the day and sometimes before going to bed. Makes it easy to spot footprints. Gives me information. When neighbors walk by, some ask me why. I tell them I was a Boy Scout in my younger years.

5. More than one entry? – If you have two points of entry, extend the steps for both, even if you only use one door. I watched an ambulance carry away an older woman who got up in the middle of the night and for some reason decided to step outside via the second entry, before the husband could alert her that the steps were not extended. Down she went, resulting in a broken hip.

6. Traveling solo? – Set out 2-3 chairs around your campfire … keep ’em guessing. I could go on but want to urge our readers to post their own suggestions. I’m sure we will all learn something new.

NEXT WEEK – “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”

Note: We know what we discuss in this column may be controversial. While we invite your polite, constructive comments, inflammatory remarks will be immediately deleted.

Mike Sherman is a retired street cop and investigator with 30+ years of RV experience as a traveler, camp host and all-around advocate for the joys of living on the road. His articles are for general discussion purposes only – you should always consult your local authorities or legal counsel for specific answers if necessary. Write him at MikeShermanPI@gmail.com if you have questions or comments.




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Michael anomous (@guest_41407)
4 years ago

I have a concealed carry permit and do travel with a gun, but it gets complicated traveling state to state to ensure I am comply g with all the various laws. I also have a hotel style safe in the RV to lock up my gun when necessary.

However, the best protection I have is a can of bear spray kept in a location all the family knows. It is easy to use, blasts 30 feet and everyone can accurately use it – and it is non lethal, reducing liability.

Steve England (@guest_41213)
4 years ago

I heard on a news broadcast once that a can of wasp spray is a good idea. It will shoot 20 feet and will definitely disable an intruder. This could be a simple and cheap alternative if you don’t have a gun.

M.D. Billings (@guest_41252)
4 years ago
Reply to  Steve England

I have heard that many times but I have second thoughts about it. First of all there is a warning on every can that says, “It is a violation of federal law to use this product in any manner that is inconsistent with its intended use.” And there is further warning about not spraying it on people or pets.
Secondly, if you spray that stuff in someone’s face, for example, and cause permanent damage to their eyes you could be in for a serious law suit regardless of whether or not they were engaged in a potential criminal activity. So, it may not be a cheap alternative after all.

Joe Allen (@guest_41149)
4 years ago

Plus one on the don’t tell rule! One reason why I don’t like open carry! I don’t want anyone to know I’m packing. Now, a round in the chamber, that’s another interesting topic!

Chuck Dunn (@guest_41221)
4 years ago
Reply to  Joe Allen

Without a round in the chamber, you are carrying a club.

Debbie Peterson Jenson (@guest_41104)
4 years ago

We also have a motion light that turns on by our door

Debbie Peterson Jenson (@guest_41103)
4 years ago

I feel our two cans of Bear spray could be used too

M.D. Billings (@guest_41253)
4 years ago

Please see my reply to Steve England, above.

Paul (@guest_41277)
4 years ago
Reply to  M.D. Billings

May depend on what jurisdiction you’re in. At our most recent community “Neighborhood Watch” meeting, our local police force recommended that all residents keep a high powered flashlight and bear spray by their front doors. The flashlight in the eyes will temporarily blind them and the bear spray will help to incapacitate them. (As previously stated, the flashlight can also be used as a club). The police officer told us there is nothing illegal about using bear spray to defend yourself. Your jurisdiction may be different, but either way I’d hazard a guess they’ll be more lenient with you bear spraying someone vs shooting them…

Firechief019 (@guest_41095)
4 years ago

We use the Tattletale alarm system. It is relatively inexpensive, uses cell service to send the signal to the monitoring company who then sends you texts and emails. The monthly charge is around $20. It has a built in motion detector, battery backup and tamper alarm. You can add door/window sensors and smoke detectors. You have the option of the company notifying the local police if you are in an area for an extended period. No, I am not affiliated in any way with Tattletale, just a very satisfied client.

Kevin Loving (@guest_41090)
4 years ago

The RIGHT flashlight can be also used in close in personal defense. I have a 4 cell Maglight mounted beside my door and my bed.

Robbie (@guest_41085)
4 years ago

…..and I thought I was the only one using the rake trick. This trick works real well. Once used a high-powered flashlight, which I keep at the entrance door to stop a person walking to our site. Stopped him in his tracks, instantly.

Primo Rudy's Roadhouse (@guest_41078)
4 years ago

Interesting thinking. I don’t know how many of those thoughts will be implemented, but definitely gives food for thought. The best thing, for me, is that I have yet to feel unsafe while camping. Hope I never will.

Wolfe (@guest_41122)
4 years ago

I use all these suggestions already, with three mods:

1) my airhorn is a spring-plunger operated version. Can’t run out of gas, since the pressure is produced on demand. I also carry one in my kayak when paddling (to signal when i’m swept out to sea or to startle a bear away on a river).

2) i use the rake trick for animals as well as bipeds… good to know if a bear investigated camp when away, or to look for racoon, fox, etc.

3) i always put out several chairs — not only my own lazy convenience having a chair near the grill, under the awning etc, but more inviting for people strolling by if you invite them to sit for a chat.

terry okeefe (@guest_41056)
4 years ago

I would really like to see stats on how many people in rvs have had to use a gun to protect themselves.It seems there are way more gun owners than bad guys in RV areas

Bob Godfrey (@guest_41069)
4 years ago
Reply to  terry okeefe

You would never know who the “bad” guy is/was until they did harm would you?

Brian S. Holmes (@guest_63477)
3 years ago
Reply to  Bob Godfrey

I really think it`s a mental health issue at the very least paranoia, the constant need to protect ones self or “the family”. This is not the people you want to be firing at the bad guy in a crowed restaurant.

Nanci (@guest_41048)
4 years ago

We pack bear spray. Just don’t test it when downwind as my husband did….

Steve Lawrence (@guest_41042)
4 years ago

Thank you Mike for your ideas and suggestions. I am a trained carrier of firearms and appreciated all of the comments in the previous discussions. I hope that anyone that chooses to carry will first get proper training and will continue to train so they can be properly prepared if an event occurs. My suggestion to add to yours is to consider a security system for your RV. I own an alarm company and we have protected several RVs for my customers and I will be installing a security system in my new 5th wheel this spring. With todays cellular services, a security system can provide immediate notification of unwanted entry and even response from the central station to the exact location of the RV. This type of system provides the same protection that I have in my home and in my business. What a sense of comfort it provides, day and night.

Randy (@guest_41054)
4 years ago
Reply to  Steve Lawrence

Thanks Steve, How about suggestions for a non-central (local) alarm for RV’s?

Wolfe (@guest_41126)
4 years ago
Reply to  Randy

There are many simple local alarms, since the expense is in the monitoring. HFT used to sell one with 6 magnetic sensors, which in addition to OFF and ARMED, has a CHIME function that leaves behind LEDs for what was opened (so you’ll know which cargo door was tamperred even if left in chime mode). Simple security for under $20.

If you’re extra thrifty, dollar store devices can alarm individual portals/toolboxes/etc., but those can get more annoying to use since they arm individually.

Diana Sherman (@guest_41150)
4 years ago
Reply to  Wolfe

Thank you Wolfe for alternatives to expensive services. Not everyone can afford them, nor is everyone within cell range. When so many RVers are boondocking, in the mountains, canyons, beach areas, its nice to know there are still products to make us feel more aware and secure.

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