RVer Safety: Food for thought – A grab bag of ideas for personal safety

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By Mike Sherman
Here are a few suggestions that can affect your safety and security, and also help avoid some frustration. Experienced RVers know one must be flexible when hitting the road, full time or not. We just never know what is around an unfamiliar corner. Below are bullet points for your consideration. Some are no-brainers. The idea this week is to urge readers to add to the list so we can all learn something new.

  • Always carry water. Some campers like to be as light as possible when traveling. Your tank need not be full and will not have a large impact on your miles per gallon if you are 1/4 – 1/3 full. Some examples are the need to use the toilet (we always avoid public restrooms when possible). If you change a tire, you’ll want soap and water to clean up. If the dog ends up getting muddy at a rest stop you might decide to give him/her a quick bath. Point being – have your RV able to serve your needs; It is nice to have all the comforts of home. Having water can make a world of difference.
  • Always do a walk-around prior to pulling out. I have seen folks driving down the road with extended steps, or an open storage door.
  • If you raise your TV antenna on the roof, hang your ignition key on the handle. It might remind you to crank it down before starting the engine (if you can remember where you put that key to begin with!).
  • Do you have two entry doors to your RV? If so, extend the steps for both doors, even if you won’t be using both. I know of an elderly woman who, for some reason, got up in the middle of the night, stepped outside and ended up in the hospital. Plus, you can consider that second door as an emergency exit if needed.
  • Add more fire extinguishers: One is not enough. (Others on board can help too.) Keep them fresh and currently dated. As they age, you and your spouse should shoot them off to empty. The practice will make you familiar with their operation, and they also come in handy as a defensive weapon.
  • ALWAYS maintain proper tire pressure; it will help you maintain your safety.
  • Carry some canned food for emergency use. You could end up in the boonies with a mechanical problem and no cell service. Be prepared to be stuck for a period of time. You already have extra clothing and blankets, might as well carry some extra food (and maybe a gallon jug or more of fresh water).

I could probably go on and on but don’t want to be boring if at all possible. Besides, I’m sure others out there can add to the list. Some personal experiences that taught you a lesson would be a plus for everyone.


I’ll start off the “personal experiences” with a true story (and I don’t mind admitting my stupidity). It was hot while getting ready to pull out, so I remained plugged into power to run the A/C while I finished up. I usually wash up as my final step. I already did my walk-around, awning in, antenna down, etc., etc. I said to myself, “Self, make the A/C keep the interior cool up to the final step.”

Yes, I forgot, was distracted, and didn’t realize the A/C was still running when I pulled out of my campsite. Fortunately, no damage to the power post or the cord … just my pride and ego when someone started yelling at me as I neared the exit. Some lessons we learn the hard way.

Be safe, be secure, enjoy the journey!

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 leave a comment below. 

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Linda

We remove the campground entry pass from the car window when we drive out to go shopping, sightseeing, etc. The entry pass announces to interested thieves what campground you’re at, exact site, and the parked car shows you’re presently not at your site. Sometimes the car pass has the key code written on it to access the campground. Otherwise, there are lots of rouses to get into the campground to your site. We also avoid any stickers on the toad showing political affiliation, gun opinions, or any cute pics of family stick figures. I cringe to see the parked car at Walmart with the depiction of single female stick figure, 2 cats, & a dog. Be the “gray man”.

Dave

I decided to check and tighten my lug nuts while the travel trailer was up on its stabilizing jacks, and not adequately chocked. The applied force knocked it off the jacks, damaging one of them. I could have injured me or someone inside the RV. Try to tighten lug nuts when hooked up to the tow vehicle or chocked very well.

Linda

Always lock your toad or truck, even in a “safe”, gated rv resort. We camped where thieves tried the doors on every car in the park one night (and other rv parks in the area). They stole money, cell phones, guns, wallets, etc. If the car was locked, they went to the next one. Doors were left slightly ajar, no one heard a thing.

Dave

Pulled into a campground for an extended stay and decided that I would change out the water in the fresh tank. I emptied the tank that night and would fill in the morning.
As we awoke, we found that a main water pipe outside the campground had erupted during the night and we would be out of water for 3 days while it was fixed. Many trips to the store for bottled water and a valuable lesson was learned.

Mike Sherman

If you travel alone, place 2-3 chairs outside your rig….keep ’em guessing.

Rich

we always carry a full or neatly full tank of fresh water. we used to carry minimal water but changed after encountering a park whose water system had been shut down by the public health dept for e-coli contamination.

Stan W

I like to carry about 25 gallons of water in my 5th wheel. I timed how long it took to fill a 5 gallon bucket of water at home, then multiplied that by 5. It was about a minute and 5 seconds to fill the bucket. When I want to add water to my tank I set a timer for 5 minutes. That way i know I have about 25 gallons of water.

tom

pulled the 50 amp rv outlet off the outside house wall. forgot to unplug and store the power cord. cheap fix, but very important lesson.